It is the way
This week when my partner turned on the car and it revved itself up to twice idle and stayed there, we noticed. It didn’t seem unusual, but we’d never taking much notice of it before. I wondered if it was because this car was advertised as a “turn on and go” vehicle that didn't require a lengthy warmup time. My partner wondered if it was set for a fast warmup so you can get in the car and push go, then it would be ready to go by the time you put your seatbelt on a get settled. Which made me realize that’s exactly what I do.
For reasons I had not previously examined, I always: get in the car and start the ignition, then put on my seatbelt, stick my phone in the holder, pick the music/podcast/audiobook, stuff my jacket somewhere, check the mirrors. Theeeeeen I shift into drive and move out. Which got me pondering whether I do that ritual in that order because most of my cars have been old enough to require many minutes of warm-up before they were ready to drive. Would I instead do all those preparatory tasks before turning the car on if I hadn’t formed the habit in an environment requiring waiting.
Noticing “I do this thing in a particular way” and asking “why do I do that” is a universal and useful skill. I am reasonably practiced at it for a variety of reasons, so I do it often. Sometimes my train of thought pulls into that station without my conscious choice - like I did in the car this week. Other times I set out to deliberately engage with that mode of consideration.
The practice of deconstructing the seed of my habits in thought and action has been critical to my personal anti-oppression journey. It’s one method I have used to dredge-up the bias I internalized by existing in modern society. It’s also not something that everyone does without some prompting. In fact, some people have learned to avoid or mistrust that particular flavor of self-examination.
Ultimately, we do things the way we do them because that’s what we have been practicing. At any moment we can begin to practice something different. It only takes realizing that's an option and then making a shift. Sometimes that's a small thing, like remembering to take my shoes off when I enter someone's house. Sometimes is a big thing, like learning to call someone by a new name or referring to them with new pronouns. Every time we practice the new way it gets closer to one day becoming the new default.
As a society we've been practicing certain things for a long time. I'd like to practice some different things. I'd like for all of us to practice humanizing each other. I'd like for us all to practice housing people no matter who they are or why they don't already have an indoor place to live and store their stuff. I'd like for us all to practice using fewer plastics and wasting less water and driving fewer miles in gasoline powered cars. I'd like us all to practice the things we need to make a better world.
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Jaydra is a human in-process, working to make the world a better place. Sharing thoughts, feelings, and observations about the human experience.