Funny that you should say “You can’t dance with someone who walks on the floor with the purpose of making you look bad”. I think of conversation as a dance where both people have to be willing to move back and forth, even if there is a stumble from time to time. It’s also similar to something I’ve often said about trying out new things at work. “You can play by new rules if everyone insists on playing the old game.”
Speaking of games, I’ve finished playing The Last of Us Part I this week (4th time through) and have started on Diablo IV. Gaming has become much more acceptable than it was when I was a teenager in the 80’s. Still get weird stares from a lot of people, but not as many now. Like anything else it’s a hobby and I would guess closest to reading - though more interactive. During the Covid lockdowns it was gaming that allowed me to travel to far-flung places and other worlds to escape.
This week I’d like to focus on changing some of my habits. Some work for me and others don’t. My task is to identify the cues that cause a bad habit to kick in and leverage that into a new habit. There are some where it feels like the cue is just the day. “Oh, it’s Monday night so off to the supermarket for a bag of chips.”. I’ll need to be a bit more precise if I’m going to shift things in the right direction.
Tomorrow (if not Wednesday) is going to be a hard day. As a family we made the decision yesterday that it’s time to let our 15 year-old dog Sam pass on. His health has deteriorated over the last 12 months and is accelerating. Most of the time he looks miserable and pleading. Sam came to us at 4 years-old as a second time rescue dog. We believe his first owner abused him and his second was a single male who, because of the way Sam had been treated, wasn’t able to connect to him. I can understand that. For years, Sam would not even come near me. Originally an outside dog, I found out the girls had been letting him inside during the afternoon, and then swooshing him out before I came home from work. Now, he’s as indoor as they get. I’m glad we’ve been able to give him a better life than he started with. If only everyone’s life could work out that way - getting better all the time.
It’s funny– I fit all the trappings of a gamer as a mid-30s white guy in tech who was an absolute nerd my entire life. But, I actually stopped playing games around high school. I remember selling all of my video games to buy a guitar. It didn’t feel like a statement moving away from gaming. In the past, I’ve taken creative license in this re-telling to claim that I was making some kind of move to make myself more attractive or fit in better or something in a self-deprecating way. But honestly, I was just less and less interested in games, even as an avid Nintendo Power reader and someone who woke up to play RPGs for an hour before school, and more and more interested in music. I think it was less about rejecting being a nerd– I couldn’t shed that identity with all the money, dedication, and time in the world. I think it was more about being lonely, and gravitating toward thing that were more social. Playing guitar was something I could do with my band (I started just singing and learned guitar to add that to the mix). Playing video games, at that time, was not something easily done with friends. I wonder if I would have made different choices if I grew up when online gaming and voice chat and all of that were around.
Habit changes are so hard. I have been on a mission to be more healthy since the start of COVID, really jump-started in part from my dad’s heart attack that happened in the first year of the pandemic. I’ve found it’s easier to build new affirmative habits–“start doing this”– then to discard bad habits– “stop doing that”. It’s especially true when the new pattern I want to establish takes something from being an easy default to something that requires attention, intention, and energy. Adding “start going to volleyball” is a lot easier than “stop eating a full pizza every time something bad happens as a coping mechanism”. I hope you find some success in changing your habits. I’ve made it at least part of the way, but I’m currently in a back slide. What I’m thinking about now is how I may need to do more to do less. If it’s easier for me to start something new, maybe I need to fill my time and energy with new things to crowd out what I want to stop. If there’s no time for bad habits, I won’t do them.
Letting go of a loved one is hard. I grew up with a golden retriever/yellow lab mix Martina, from the time I was about 5 until I was about 19. She had a really tough last couple of years, but I think overall had more good than bad in that time. It was very hard to let her go. When I was 24, my partner and I got a dog together, Gracie. She’s now starting to show some real signs of aging, and it’s been really hard on us. The vet visits increase, the vet bills increase, and although she’s absolutely still having a happy life, it’s also clear that there’s less quality. She’s able to do less and is motivated to do less with the passage of time.
Sam knows he is loved, and Sam had a life that was better because you and your family were a part of it. I don’t think that’s enough, but it’s something.