Paths are the habits of a landscape. They are acts of consensual making. It’s hard to create a footpath on your own…Paths connect. This is their first duty and their chief reason for being. They relate places in a literal sense, and by extension they relate people.
Paths are consensual, too, because without common care and common practice they disappear: overgrown by vegetation, ploughed up or built over (though they may persist in the memorious substance of land law). Like sea channels that require regular dredging to stay open, paths NEED walking.
I see now that the path I choose through the maze makes me what I am. I am not only a thing, but also a way of being—one of many ways—and knowing the paths I have followed and the ones left to take will help me understand what I am becoming. ― Daniel Keyes, Flowers for Algernon
By identifying with a craving (‘I want this,” “don’t want’ that”), you tighten the clutch and intensify its resistance. Instead of being a state of mind that you have, it becomes a compulsion that has you. As with understanding anguish, the challenge in letting go of craving is to act before habitual reactions incapacitate us.
Like a snake sheds its skin, we are capable of getting rid of assembled habits, creating space to call matters into question. Instead of the Shakespearean “To be or not to be ” we could favor “to become or not to become”. By “becoming”, we challenge the range of possibilities in our life and go beyond the merely “being”. We can retreat, then, from the imprisonment of a deadly routine, acquire an identity and develop our personality.
The soul grows into lovely habits as easily as into ugly ones, and the moment a life begins to blossom into beautiful words and deeds, that moment a new standard of conduct is established, and your eager neighbors look to you for a continuous manifestation of the good cheer, the sympathy, the ready wit, the comradeship, or the inspiration, you once showed yourself capable of. Bear figs for a season or two, and the world outside the orchard is very unwilling you should bear thistles.
There is no quicker way of growing old than undue indulgence in regular habits. Indeed it seems probable that the reason why so many people die sooner than they should is because they have organised their lives in such a way that there is nothing left for them to do. Change, as is well-known, is not only a law of Nature, but the very breath of existence. And if you rule change out of your life there no longer seems any reason why you should continue altogether.
The daily life into which people are born, and into which they are absorbed before they are well aware, forms chains which only one in a hundred has moral strength enough to despise, and to break when the right time comes – when an inward necessity for independent individual action arises, which is superior to all outward conventionalities. Therefore it is well to know what were the chains of daily domestic habit which were the natural leading-strings of our forefathers before they learnt to go alone.