My wife and I tried breaking our nightly routine.
To alleviate muscle aches, we deduced that if we each slept on side of the bed where the other person usually lies, we might arise pain free. (It made sense in the moment.)
I make no claim that swapping pillows is a valiant act of bravado. That does nothing to diminish the reality that it, in fact, was awkward. Not simply “I-normally-don’t–wear–this-color-so-I-feel-like-everyone’s-staring-at-me” unpleasant; it was more akin to “Did-I-forgot-to-zip-something?” anxiety. We tossed, turned, bumped into each other multiple times, and waited twitchily for the arrival of Hypnos, the God of Slumber, only to be jilted on the mattress. After several fidgety hours, reverting to positions of yore, we obtained at last a modicum of shut-eye.
It’s not as if my bride and I, while writing our vows, discussed who would lay claim to which side of the bed.
“Do you, Scott, promise to love, cherish, and support Mary Ann until the end of your days — while swearing to snooze faithfully on the section of bed furthest from the nightstand?”
No, that’s not how it happens. Customs emerge. One moment, it’s an arbitrary behavior, next instant: Habit. Isn’t that how it is?
We set up repetitive behaviors for our ease; then, something alters them.
We are naked, abandoned, and lonely. Without habit’s landmarks, direction is lost; uneasiness swamps us. So, we rush back as quickly as possible, reassured finally by the embrace of the familiar.