Force of Habit


In “A Grief Observed”, Part III, par 28, Lewis writes:

“I think I am beginning to understand why grief feels like suspense. It comes from the frustration of so many impulses that had become habitual. Thought after thought, feeling after feeling, action after action, had H. for their object. Now their target is gone. I keep on through habit fitting an arrow to the string; then I remember and have to lay the bow down. So many roads lead thought to H. I set out on one of them. But now there’s an impassable frontier-post across it. So many roads once; now so many culs de sac.”

As indicated above, Lewis expresses these thoughts in Part III (of IV) when he is calmer, and begins to realize that his pain is due, at least partly, to a catastrophic change of habitual routine. The Russian writer, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, wrote about a long-time prisoner who was so used to his prison routine that he was not able to survive after he was released from prison. Such is the force of habit, experienced more strongly, I think, as one ages. I think it helps to keep in mind how much a change in daily routine can have a negative effect on us, and that once things become more normalized, it can become easier.


“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever.” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-8)