They say that the swallows return to the exact same nest each year. They travel all that way to end up in the same locality. What does this tell us about swallows? That they are creatures of habit.
Habit plays a big part in our lives, especially now when Covid 19 restrictions are limiting our choices. All of us, except the very young, are to a great degree creatures of habit. It is said that we live the second half of our lives according to the habits acquired during the first half. That will be comforting for those who have formed good habits. But it will be disturbing for those who have formed bad habits.
This is the positive side to habit. Repetition is necessary. It is a hard grind and a tough discipline, but it can bear fruit. Athletes have shown us that repetition can produce results. Only thus is a skill mastered. Daily teeth cleaning keeps decay at bay. The most perfect actions are effortless, because through dent of habit, they have become second nature to us.
Habits can be life-giving and sustaining. Daily habits and routines can keep people going and help them to get through bad times, when even the smallest of our daily habits becomes meaningful.
Nelson Mandela gives us an example of this. Writing about his time in prison, he says: "To survive in prison, one must develop ways to take satisfaction in one's daily life. One can feel fulfilled by washing one's clothes, by sweeping a corridor...."
But we often need a jolt to reawaken us. Because habit can be a great deadener. It can dull our senses, especially our seeing and hearing. It can put us to sleep, so that we are not so much living as merely functioning.
But let us take our valuable routine and habit and add the invigorating spark of imagination, creativity and ambition as the Covid vaccination program gathers pace and lets us jolt back again into activity.