Habits, or that Old Comfy Sweater

I have a reddish brown wool sweater that I can’t seem to shake. I’ve owned it for awhile, at least 4 or 5 years, and I love pulling it on. It’s not too scratchy, just the right amount of baggy, and totally natural. No man made fibers.

I’ve tried looking for a replacement because it’s got a small hole in the sleeve, and I figured it was an excellent excuse to replace it. I’m one of those vintage store junkies: I adore pre-worn clothing with a classic level of craftsmanship and quality. I also like saving money.

But I digress (as you’ve probably come to expect from those who have been reading me for the last couple years). Every few weeks I’d dig through a couple vintage stores, and never find what I was looking for. And then last week, the holy grail, a new (to me) Eaton’s sweater from the 70s. it fit like a glove, even better than the old one, so I snatched it up, got it home… and upon looking it over in greater detail, it’s got not one, but two holes in the back section.


Yet this parable contains a lesson. It’s a bit of a simplistic koan, at least as far as I’m concerned. It allowed me to let go, and find valuable realizations concerning  my path.

My routines that are in turn comprised of habits, don’t have to be perfect in order to provide structure, familiarity, and overall value to my life. In fact, the holes also remind me of wabi-sabi, a Japanese design ethic which embraces imperfection, and the acceptance of transience. They also allow me to stop being so hard on myself, something I’m all to familiar with. I crave to live a white existence: any black, or darkness, is to be avoided; it reminds me of the stirred turbulent waters of my past. Yet the grey is an inevitability: you can’t have the balance without it. The holes also represent determination: wool often wears out where it is most used. Where there is friction, a hole appears.

I need to remember that Ying and Yang are both part of life, that suffering is integral to the pursuit of the cessation of suffering. I also need to remember that struggling with dukkha doesn’t mean that I need to compare anything difficult with any addiction issues I’ve experienced in the past. I need to build on those strengths, not lump them all together as an absolute failure.

I sometimes really enjoy where a post takes me. This sat as a draft, with only the first line written, for a few months before I wrote the rest. I’m emphatic to share where this has ended up, and to see the importance of self acceptance, how failure is part of my success: the best personal triumphs are those rooted in humility.


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