Wednesday, December 14, 2005


at the gym, is MINE. Of course it's not mine at all, because I haven't forked out the 300 dollars it costs to own a locker at the gym, but it nevertheless appears to be mine every time I'm there. Which made me think today about the extent to which we are all creatures of habit. We zone in and mark out our territory at an early stage in any ongoing experience in a simple yet very precise manner, in so many areas of our lives.

For almost 15 years I sat on the same stool in the same place at the RFH bar almost every day at performance time. If some stranger made it to that stool before me I wandered around in nomadic fashion, unable to settle anywhere else, sometimes even unconsciously eyeballing said stranger, waiting for the intruder to move.
At the RFH bar, sitting on the left side of the bar was right, sitting on the right side of the bar felt wrong - like trying to write with your left hand if you're right-handed.

And sitting there every day, on MY stool, I noticed that everyone else behaved in the same manner - the retired hairdresser who always placed himself precariously on the edge of the higher level, leaning against the pillar behind him, and the two brothers who attended commuter jazz every week and had their own place in front of the left side bar pillar. They were extreme - if anyone else was standing in their places when they arrived, they would look momentarily confused, then LEAVE. The regulars all had their own seats, the standers their own square footage.

And now, 3,000 miles and a whole lifetime later, I'm behaving in exactly the same manner. Locker 146 is mine, and who the hell knows why, because as lockers go it's a pretty poor specimen with the door half hanging off, but I head straight for it each day, like a child to its parent.

And I wonder how much we narrow our lives with this territorial behaviour? At the gym I will only probably ever get into conversation with the territorial owners of lockers 144 - 148. Who knows what beauteous friendship could be lurking in the 200's?

How would our lives be different if we all made a conscious effort every day to behave differently from our everyday patterns, even in the smallest ways? If we went to a different coffee bar on the way to work, caught a different train or bus, walked a different route, took the stairs rather than the lift?

And I cite as a good example of this the fact that the TH, my husband, was attending commuter jazz at the RFH every week for several years before I met him - only he was standing on the RIGHT side of the bar. It took a friend of his to drag him to the left side for us to meet.

But on the other hand, if I'd met him years earlier, would we be married today?


Blogger Catster said...

i seem to recall the occasional conscious eye-balling of said stool stealers as well...! ;-)


4:50 AM, December 15, 2005  

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