June 23, 2014
One day at a time people choose to live their lives so very differently. The differences sometimes amaze me. The patterns of living may be beautiful or repulsive; constructive or destructive; kind or mean; and they may be healthy or fatal. One thing is certain: habits are important. Most but not all habits are under an individual’s control. I am fascinated by the differences in how people spend their time, money, energy and love. Some of these patterns require remarkable discipline.
Reading regularly to one’s children from infancy onward is so very important for many reasons.
For years my sister and her husband, Peggy and Zeus Stevens, instead of Christmas cards sent out Thanksgiving cards a good week before Thanksgiving. They have been doing this for about 45 years now. That would be 45 years of getting the job done early! How different and wonderful is that pattern!
Walking on his estate in England using little stakes to help him calculate the number of miles he has walked is what Charles Darwin did for many years.
Then there was the woman who decided she would cook one recipe from the Julia Childs cookbook every day for a year. So what happened? Lots of good meals! A book of her own. A movie from that book.
Rising up from a low chair 100 times a day. Result: 20 years later when many people half way through their eighties cannot rise from a low chair without assistance, the person who has religiously been using those muscles each day rises up without difficulty.
One-mile walks with her seven border collies five times a day except when the temperature is unbearably hot is what Maggie’s daughter, Peggy Anderson, does. She also wins awards for her excellence in sheepdog trials.
Working when one doesn’t feel like working, going to school when one doesn’t feel like going to school or to class, and going to church regularly are all patterns that may serve a person well. I remember the words of Marvin McClatchy at the St. Anne’s Episcopal Church in Atlanta who said “If you are too busy to go to church, you are too busy.”
In time each of us becomes a composite picture profoundly influenced by the pattern of our choices. In the long haul no one else is making our most important choices for us. Each of us is independently developing the habits that will trickle down through the rivers of our lives.
Robert A. Hatcher M.D., M.P.H.
Emeritus Professor of Gynecology and Obstetrics
Emory University School of Medicine