“They” say it may take 21 days to break a habit. Yesterday, armed with this assumption, I began the process of changing the familiar routines that so shaped my days over the past two years of my own retirement, over the past 26 years of life here on the peninsula.
Awakening at 4 am with a rare and unexpected head cold, I rationalized my stuffy nose and sore throat as the Universe’s way of reminding me to slow down, to breathe more deeply, to choke my organized and purposeful actions into a much gentler pace.
In 21 days these daily habits, entrenched in our lives all these years, will be reshaped into new and unfamiliar patterns; brewing my usual morning tea in a strange teapot, pouring it into a different cup while tasting a slight variance from using bottled water.
As always, the first sip will be accompanied by my gaze out the window in the near future at the vast expanse of the sea, mysterious and foreboding, as opposed to the cozy comfort of gazing at the lake for all these years, a shoreline in the not too distant horizon, predictable even on the windiest of days. Not so the sea.
Stuffy head, I welcomed the cold, crisp air on the early morning walk, especially chilly at 32 degrees, fingers numb and tightly tucked into my pockets, having failed to wear gloves.
Wiggling my toes in my tennis shoes hoping to ward off the cold, I picked up the pace walking almost an hour, stopping periodically to look up at a noisy flock of geese honking their way south or to blow my nose into the soft paper towels I had stuffed into my jacket before walking out the door.
When will I be so cold again? In Belize, at the little oceanfront house, when the average daily temperature is 83 degrees in the winter months? In Tuscany, next summer? Doubtful. In Africa next fall, again a house on the sea, in a time in which it will actually be their spring? Unlikely. Or, in the prime season in Kauai in 2015, the ocean at our doorstep, the warm breezes in our faces? No, it won’t be cold.
The colorful leaves, crispy under my feet, a part of my expectations in any fall season yet to come, will forever be embedded into my memories of seasons so clearly defined. We’ve enthusiastically welcomed and sadly bid adieu to the seasons, ready to move on to the next, often too cold with record breaking temperatures and snowfalls or, too hot with record breaking heat.
Twenty one days to break the habit of that which we have known and loved, at times bemoaned and begrudged, to begin anew in a strange land, finding our way with a touch of trepidation, with an abundance of wonder and with a never-ending desire to become familiar once again.