We all fall into traps. One common trap is the Trap of Must. It’s the one that comes into play when something Must be done this way or Must be said that way or Must happen in this sequence. It could also be called the Trap of Habit. Some habits are not good. Some are. I have a habit of putting coleus in the planter boxes that lead to my front porch. I do this because they always do well there and look really pretty.
The coleus are the ones with the colorful leaves closest to the porch.
This goat has a habit of sticking his head up over the fence of his enclosure.
Why is he doing this? Because he wants food. His chances are better that someone visiting Yoder’s will come along and give him some if he sticks his head out and lets everyone see those big eyes. Experience has taught him this.
Coco has a habit of coming to you with her one-legged monkey (one-legged because she tore the other leg off), standing there, staring at you and expecting you to know what to do. Play with her. Just play.
The habit of play is good, assuming you make it a habit. Mom came with Jerry yesterday and taught me and Kaileena a new game called Phase 10. Sandy joined us even though he is generally very bad at games and habitually avoids them. (He ended up dominating completely!)
In it you have to put your cards together to make runs and sets such as a run of 4 like 2-3-4-5 (and they don’t even have to be the same colors in this game) or a set like three 10s or four 6s. Sometimes you want to make sets and sometimes you want to make runs, and sometimes a combination. The card on top of the discard pile might be just the one you need, but sometimes someone else takes it because it’s their turn or they put a card on top of it, burying it forever from usefulness. This is maddening of course.
Say you are on the “phase” of the game where you have to make one run of four and one set of four. Until you manage to make this, you cannot proceed to the next phase. As happens in games that involve some skill but mostly luck, you sometimes get stuck. Jerry found himself continually able to make a run of three or a run of four, but his cards did not seem to want to make sets. He cracked us all up when he blurted out (clearly without considering the alternate meaning), “I seem to get the runs easily.”
I plant the coleus because they look pretty, the goat stretches his neck in hopes of food, Coco comes with her monkey because she wants to play, and Jerry gets the runs easily!
The world is complicated and our lives are full. We go about our days and weeks and years on autopilot sometimes. As long as those planter boxes are there, I will automatically think of coleus when the time comes to plant pretty things every spring. That goat will look longingly at every last visitor to Yoder’s: You have food for me, right? Coco will come to you at least three times a day with the monkey (or the fox or the giraffe or whichever toy she has not yet torn to pieces — and fyi, no matter what they are, they are all called monkey, no point confusing the poor dog). Jerry’s runs, even though they were by chance – to say nothing of hilarious – did happen over and over and somehow got me to thinking about habits, which is how I got to this topic.
Every once in a while, it is good to think about why we do what we do. Autopilot has its merits. We do a thing because we’ve always done it. We do a thing a certain way because we’ve always done it that way. We have enough to think about, too much to think about, and being able to do some things without really thinking about them is useful.
But not always. Sometimes we do things blindly with no good reason. We just do them because someone said to do it that way or we always just did. Which brings me to The Story of the Roast.
A woman was preparing dinner one day and her daughter watched her cut the end off the piece of meat before putting it in the roasting pan. The girl said, “Mommy, why do you cut the end off the meat like that?”
The woman said, “I don’t know. My mother always did.”
The next time the woman visited her mother, she said, “Mom, a question for you. Why do you cut the end off the meat when you make a roast?”
The mother said, “I don’t know. My mother always did.”
The next time the woman visited her grandmother, she said, “Grandma, a question for you. Why did you always cut the end off the meat when you made a roast?”
Grandma said, “My pan was too small.”
See? Blind habit. Only the first generation had good reason to cut the end off the piece of meat. Subsequent generations had different pans.
There might be very good reason for all of the things you do. There might not. Just think about it.