Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Relative Nature Of Habits

That's not the newest NBA prospect destined for a high dollar shaving cream endorsement deal. It's an image from Amazing Filtered Things of the hairiest man (hopefully person) in China. Oddly enough he's not the hairiest person in the world, which is a somewhat alarming thought in itself.

Of course there's no real reason I posted that picture except I figured it would get your attention, which is a cheap trick I learned long ago when some kid my old friend Harlan and I went to Junior High with ran for class President or Vice President or Prom Queen and a supporter put up a "Vote For" poster declaring:"SEX! Now that I have your attention..."
I know, it's trite now, but it was clever, at least I thought 1971.

My old friend Harlan (yes, I'm deliberately trying to move that phrase up in Google) with whom I haven't actually spoken in...ouch, this math hurts...35 or more years...mentioned in an email today that he's been enjoying Amazing Filtered Things ever since I swiped some other oddity from that site and posted it here a while back. Actually it was that email from my old friend Harlan along with a post by my blog friend Chuck that prompted me to think about habits and relationships today.

The term habit has a somewhat negative connotation I suppose. I at least tend to put in an implied "bad" before the word. That's a bad habit on my part. Habits can certainly be good things.

I have lots of habits, most many of which are good. I have my fair share of bad habits too, but I'm honestly working on those and the Lord knows all too well that there are a lot of habits I should start developing or pick up again.

For example, walking every day was a habit of mine for years - I thought of it as a "discipline" - but in either case it's something that I simply haven't had the time or energy for lately. I got out of that habit when we joined a gym and then when we stopped going to the gym (don't worry we're still paying for the membership) I fell out of the exercise habit entirely. It really seems like Amy and I always have too many other things to tackle. I am aware that such thinking is probably a bad habit...feel free to keep a running tally.

I also thought of writing every day as a discipline which became a habit, and then it became somewhat of a burden, so I decided not to hold myself to the "discipline" aspect of writing daily any longer. I think now that was a bad decision - just because a discipline becomes habit doesn't negate its value in fact I think that's the goal, so I'm going to work harder at using writing as a discipline.

I should also get in the habit of bathing the dogs more often, and with the humidity at about 173 percent in San Antonio lately, I should probably get in the habit of bathing myself more often too.

Alright, I've veered way off course and am dangerously close to straying toward thoughts which might suddenly make that hairy guy image above seem appropriate.

I really didn't mean for this to get into a list of prerequisites for the "Michael Main Makeover Edition."

Actually, I had sent my old friend Harlan an email last night to check on him since he's one of my highly underpaid - read that "conscripted" - yet highly appreciated editors who goes out of his way to gently point out occasional (cough) errors I make here in regard to fact, grammar, punctuation, spelling, omitted words, severed sentences, pared paragraphs, and sometimes quite often any semblance of sense.

I hadn't heard from him in a while and knowing full well my grammar and sensibilities haven't improved, I dropped him a note. Rest easy, all is well with my old friend Harlan.

I'm just in the habit of expecting to hear from my old friend Harlan (okay, I'll give it a rest) every so often...everyone else who notices my blunders in day to day life has no problem alerting me immediately...Harlan at least measures his criticism wisdom extremely well, and I honestly do appreciate our relationship.

Harlan has become someone whose guidance I trust in many areas of my life, not only punctuation...but we really haven't seen each other since I was 14 years old.

My blog friend Chuck (whose book by the way is still a great value) is someone I have met once, although "met" doesn't do the visit justice since it spanned a night of conversation and food, plus a morning of worship. Yet Chuck too is someone with whom I'm in the habit of trading blog comments, or emails (I know he suppresses his pent up desire to correct my writing at every turn) regarding various topics.

There are lots of other folks, Katy at, Jim, Deb and Janet are only a few of the people who have mentored me, and/or vica versa. Yet except for Jim, whom I had the pleasure of meeting last summer - was it last summer? I'm joining the AARP I swear- I've never met or spoken with any of them, but I still have what I consider some very meaningful relationships with all of them.

In fact, and this hit me a little hard when I thought about it, I probably have closer "soul-baring" relationships (I'm obviously leaving Amy out of this equation) with many of these distant folks, connected only through I-P and email addresses, than I do with people who live within blocks of us whom I've known for years.

That's not necessarily a bad thing, just like all habits aren't bad. In fact, I think it's a pretty good thing, not that I don't want thoughtful relationships with people who aren't at least a thousand miles away, but being able to have true fellowship, honest confession, and at times accountability with people all over the globe is truly a wonder... a work of God really.

It's not a bad habit at all as habits go.

Thanking God for those relationships a little more often is also a habit I'm going to work on as well. In fact, I think I'll raise that one to the daily discipline level too.

Would you mind adding that to the other side of the tally? It might help balance it out...a little...maybe.

And these God-chosen lives all around - what splendid friends they make! - Psalm 16:3 (The Message)


To my old friend Harlan,

I actually put that errant apostrophe in yesterday's post thinking I'd torture you out of silence before I decided to send the email...admittedly I wasn't absolutely positive it was grammatically wrong...but, I figured I had a good shot at it being incorrect and hoped it would be worthwhile either way.