The first day I break from a new habit is the day when the clamour of my old habits overcomes my fascination with novelty.
You may have noticed that I experienced this recently, my one follower, so let me explain it like this: there comes a time in the life of every new habit, when the newness of that habit fades and it starts to become a part of the everyday. Once that habit becomes completely everyday, it is truly a habit – much like how one might consider a Buddhist who has reached nirvana a true Buddhist, whereas other Buddhists, who have not reached nirvana, are merely occasionally religious.
For example, at this time of night, when I used to be sleeping, or watching some kind of mindless crap, or otherwise chilling, I choose instead to switch on to WordPress, read the Daily Prompt, and then engage my mind in some kind of creative activity. I am completely unaccustomed to maintaining this level of alertness this far into the night but I manage, at first, enticed by the unfamiliar sensation of achieving by writing.
Day after day passes – and sometimes a few weeks go by – and we continue to work on a piece of writing every night after work, or after a whole day of writing. The mental clamouring for sleep, for brain death by disuse grows louder: Too long has it been since we’ve run straight into bed after a gruelling day of being nice to neurotic office workers! Too long has it been since we’ve diffused our brain power with episode after episode of television events! – and so, one dark day, when work has been a little too rough on the sensibilities, when the day has felt a little too long for even daylight savings to cover, when the daily prompt is a little too boring, or a little too hard, when an overdue book just needs to get read (*cough*Millennium People*cough*), when we really must get to class tomorrow morning, we decide to skip a Daily Prompt for the first time.
It is a tragic act, to break a streak. It’s the disproof of perfection in our lives and it’s the invitation of failure into our new venture. Although failure is the beginning of all solutions, it is always hoped, before our first failure, that we will make no missteps in this new enterprise. That, for once, we will have no need of failure.
After we miss that first Daily Prompt, missing another is hardly as big a defeat as breaking that streak of completed Daily Prompts. That next one seems stupid as well, the one after that – damn, it’s a hard one; I really need to get to bed – and following that – I’m going to make my comeback with this one? Please.
Eventually, we realise that we are giving ourselves a whole bunch of excuses. We remember that that original feeling of achievement did not come from a thoroughly interesting prompt or a perfectly worded response; it came from practising writing and knowing that we had responded to the prompt with as much of our angle as we could fit in. We dither a little, shrinking from the significance of the first post after a hiatus, and if the benefits of having a certain habit outweigh those of not having it, we dither our way back into the routine and, on our first day back, we reaffirm how good it feels to do this.