On Habits by A.G. Gardiner
In On Habits by A.G. Gardiner we have the theme of routine, independence, anxiety, control, change and jealousy. Taken from his Windfalls collection the reader realises after reading the essay that Gardiner may be exploring the theme of routine. Gardiner finds himself at a loss without his pencil. It is the tool he uses for writing and regardless of how nice the pen is he has received. Gardiner cannot write with it. This may be important as Gardiner may be highlighting the importance of routine to an individual. That an individual has a set routine that they must follow in order to prosper in any task that they entertain. Should they not follow the pattern that they are accustomed to they will inevitably fail at the task at hand. Something that is clear by Gardiner’s own difficulties when it comes to his attempts to write. Only satisfying himself when he is able to resort to his normal practice of using a pencil. The matter of the young boy in Scott’s class is also another example of the difficulties one can incur should the pattern they follow be disturbed. The boy himself is lost and uncertain of what to do. Thanks to Scott’s meddling.
The matter with Scott is also important for another reason as it is clear to the reader that Scott is jealous of his classmate. Most likely because Scott is aware that the boy is getting the better of him. Something which might also cause complaint with the reader should they themselves be in a similar position. With habits one becomes adept at the task at hand and possibly better than others. So one is left open to other people’s anxieties and jealousies. It is also noticeable that Gardiner feels anxious when he does not remember what peg he has hung his coat on. Calmness only returns when Gardiner develops a routine or habit. Picking the same peg or the nearest peg to it all the time. This may be significant as Gardiner may be suggesting that there are benefits to having a routine or habit. An individual’s peace of mind remains intact. However it is worth nothing that Gardiner believes that habits should be occasionally broken. In order for one to remain independent of their routine and not let their habits control them. Which can very easily be the case for an individual who does not keep their eye on their practices.
Not only will an individual become dependent on a routine but they may also be limiting the freedom that they have. Forever under obligation to habits and the possibility of negativity that can come with forming habits. In reality an individual who does not occasionally break their habits or become independent of them. Leaves themselves open to a restless and unfulfilling life. Habits are fine when they are controlled but become cumbersome or a burden when not kept in check. A person who does not continuously monitor their habits may isolate those around them and cause problems for themselves in their life. Problems which there are no necessity for and which can be avoided by good housekeeping and continued reflection of the individual’s practices. Should an individual’s life become affected by their habits or routine. It is time for the individual to change their pattern and to reflect on their life. Ensuring that things will continue to run smoothly. If not an individual’s domestic and professional life can become problematic with chaos intruding on the individual’s life.
It is for this reason that Gardiner suggests that an individual should not let habits control them. Instead the individual should be in charge of their lives regardless of their routines or patterns. By remaining in control the individual will ensure not only that they remain in control of their lives but they will be happier knowing that they have a sense of balance in their lives. They will be more productive and if anything along with being in control and happier they will also be able to handle situations that are outside their control because they are not allowing their habits to be their one and only routine in life. An individual needs to adjust to their circumstances and not adhere to habits all the time. An individual needs to have the ability to change. Allowing them to adjust calmly and without complaint. Whereas those who adhere to habits all the time will not know what to do when their routine is changed. The young boy in Scott’s class being an example. In reality an individual needs to ensure that they control their lives rather than allowing their habits to control them. At all times an individual must be conscious of what they are doing and knowing when to stop and change their practices. By doing so an individual will live a happier and healthier life.