No habits of mind here

While last week was wrapping around into this one, I was fooling around with the Enneagram. Yes, yet another personality quiz and human-sorter… I do love me some categories. I’d taken various f*ree online Enneagram assessments in years past, getting “well…. I guess…” results, but the one I chose most recently delivered a result that had me going, Whoa. Is that what’s been going on? Well, now the world looks a little more clear!

Enneagram 5: The Observer

That’s not going to look related to what I’m thinking about today, but it is.

What I was going to write about on… last Wednesday?, Friday, Saturday, a month (two?) ago… was about my habits: (a) that I have them now and (b) how I know this.

I now know I have habits because they live in my body. That is, I notice that I’m breaking a habit, or haven’t fulfilled a habit, because I slowly realize that I feel weird. My emotion-processing training kicks in, and I pause to ask myself: Weird how? What’s up? At that point I notice that my body had anticipated making some motions—standing in a certain way, in a certain place, and the sound of water; folded into 90-degree angles, maybe with weight and heat across my thighs. My body says, “This is missing. We are used to Doing the Thing, and it is missing.”

Enneagram connection? Fives are notorious for living in their heads. So many thoughts, all the time! (As one of the panelists in this podcast exclaimed, “It’s like I have a five-lane highway of thoughts in my head and all they’re trying to get through one door!”) If ever there was a group for which the body is merely a head-transportation device, this crew would be it. And I fit the stereotype: I don’t pay attention to my physicality unless/until it manages to hogtie my mind in some way. Like when I got sick two weeks ago.

Or when I’m overlooking a habit, when my mind gets galloping off to the Next Great Think without taking care of our routine.

I had noticed this over the summer. Summertime and the return of the comet that is our B had thrown me off-balance in just about every facet of my life. But the dental hygiene that I’d managed to unrepentantly ignore for the first four-plus decades of my life kept rolling along. Asleep I’d roll into the bathroom, asleep I’d find myself at the sink with the tap on, half-asleep I would clean my teeth and take my meds. And if I wandered off before brushing my teeth, the next time I’d pass my sink I would feel odd. And stop. And remember to brush my teeth.

Somehow I’ve managed to incorporate that routine thoroughly enough that my body can keep track. And my body will tell me about it. It blew me away this summer—so THIS is what it’s like to have a habit! For me, anyhow.

Friday-Art-Day wrapped up later than usual last week. I’d gotten there later, and after some kerfluffle, so leaving late hadn’t concerned me. But as I drove my car home from C’s, my fingers and legs remembered… there’d been no blog post. We hadn’t sat with the laptop and stared at the screen to make a blog post. Was there going to be enough time?

Extra-interesting to me: I had been on my laptop for my Art-Day work. I was going through email looking for prospective targets for my poems this November. But evidently email doesn’t feel the same as blogging. Come to think of it, didn’t I repurpose a blog post here once because I’d left it too late… after writing a blog post for another site?

Habit: a rhythm so frequently performed that I embody it. At which point my body owns it.
No wonder it takes me so terribly long to acquire one. But now I know I can.

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