Whilst LT was out of the room making tea, Eloise cat went to sit in his usual place on the sofa. At present, there’s an impasse. Tim is holding her box of cat snacks, but she’ll have to move to get any of them.
Entertaining as this situation is, what it’s made me think about is habitual behaviour. That’s something I try to resist on the whole. Not entirely, of course – there are some routines that make everyday life simpler, such as having a specific place to keep keys, the locking up and switching off at night, the feeding of animals (and ourselves), obviously – but I mean things like tending to sit in the same place, eat the same things, ‘always’ doing something because you always do it, not because it’s the best or only good way.
There are various reasons for sitting in a particular place – best light for reading, chair at the right height, distance from the fire or the tv, view out of the window, for instance. A friend told me that he and his wife each have a view of a flower bed from the side of the dining table where they sit opposite each other, so they each plant one up with bedding plants for the other to look at. Unfortunately, he particularly dislikes the flowers she always plants for him and can’t say so, without admitting he’s been disliking the view for years. He’s tried to gently steer her onto something else, but she isn’t particularly sensitive to suggestions and hasn’t taken the hint. She’s very blunt and outspoken herself, you’d think she’d welcome a frank discussion…
When I go to meetings – societies, lectures, church and so on – there are always some people who always sit in the same place. Even if there’s a reason for that (one friend pointed out that the sun streams through the church window onto her preferred pew), it’s too much of a rut for my liking. When I was church warden, I liked to change the positions of particular kneelers and cushions on the pews, just to give people some sort of different experience. I daresay they thought it was the whim of the cleaner, I never mentioned it.
When I was a child, my parents always had ‘their’ places, each on a sofa opposite each other. I don’t think my sister and I did, we tended to sit wherever there wasn’t a dog, which was often on the floor. Similarly, at mealtimes, we always sat in the same place. I don’t know if we did that when my children were growing up, I can’t remember, though I suspect Russell sat at one end of the table. Now, we have a round table, so there isn’t a “head of the table” place. During the winter, we’ve sat on the side nearest the fireplace, but we haven’t lit it for the past week or two, so it doesn’t matter any more.
Eloise cat won. She stayed at the end of the sofa nearest to Tim’s laptop. But he didn’t mind. The other end was the sunniest, so he rather preferred it for a change.