in which the naked chimp is unmasked, his machines debugged, and his bugbears debunked

Monday, July 09, 2007

Tear a hole in your habit! (and other cunning stunts)

Last week we looked at the slow death of smoking. Are you still a part of it? How’s that working out for you? That bad, huh? Well then, maybe you need to ‘give it up’ and try something different. Maybe you need to experiment, do something new. As one fun nun once told me, if you want to pull a rabbit out of your hat, you need to tear a hole in your habit – have a crack at experimentation. Rutting is fine as far as it goes, but there comes a time to roll off your repetition and try, do or be something different, or differently at the very least.

Just like Warren is Rabbits forming, life is habit forming – you can’t live without habit, but at the same time, habit gets to living off you. You’ve got to re-balance the hard cheese of habit with a hot squirt of experimentation. Habit? You gotta have it. But without dehabituating yourself and your surroundings, you’ll suffocate, choke, croak. That’s the other reason smoking makes you cough. It’s a reminder. Take drugs (for example): drug taking starts as risk taking, which then becomes pleasure seeking, then habit forming, then death making. In a sense, drugs don’t work – they start by doing what you need, but they end by being needed. Two thirds of needle is need. Drugs are needy and unruly. They don’t do what they’re supposed to do, but you (as a user) have to. Who’s using who? You start off doing them to turn on, then you do them to turn off, then you do them because that’s just what you need to do to get back to zero. And so many things can be drugs: Warcraft, Jihad, porno, menthols – take your pick, prick or joystick, cancerstick, bomb belt or scissors and run with them, see where it gets you. You never know, but you can probably guess.

Why not do something different? Try your hand at someone new. Take a random walk. Achieve the kingdom of mandom through a bout of the randoms. There have to be cracks, openings, a parting... these are the channels through which creative thinking flows. If you want to make omelettes, you don’t have to break chickens or be chicken, but you do need to crack eggs. So use your egg. Sometimes you have to untie the knot, even if it's what's keeping you 'strapped in'. Or just loosen it. And mix metaphors.

Sometimes you can do this with a negative feedback loop, something that brings everything to heel, puts the structures back, make sense and simplifies, frames, names and borders. It’s amazing what doing the dishes does for you – rinse those thoughts clean. But on the flip, there have to be positive feedback loops that are all about disordering, introducing randomness, flux... These are what set off the chain reactions in the first place, the ones that created the knots that are now in your head and chaining you to the desk in your orifice, the needle in your harm, the phone in its cradle (and the formerly silver spoon). Don't be scared about what you’re not doing – it’s probably the things you’re most comfortable with that are actually going to kill you. Go on, run outside, make a call, make a mess, spring a leak. Do as the nun did, tear a hole in your habit.

© Peter Chambers 2007

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PC is an animal of the antipodes believed to be related to a gibbon.