Knowledge versus habit

I had my first minor fall on my scooter this week—I fell over at a stop sign, having forgotten that (1) slight drizzle is actually more dangerous than heavy rain, as it brings oil to the surface of the road without washing it away (or something—don’t quote me on that science); and (2) two-wheeled vehicles should always ride in the right or left tire-tracks of cars, not smack in the middle of the road, where oil tends to collect.

I’m fine—a couple bruises, and I had to get the scooter’s front tire re-aligned. My ego will take the longest to heal. It’s ironic that I had my first accident the day after talking in my Sunday address about scooting in inclement weather, but less ironic in that my accident was an example of the power of habit over knowledge, which I also talked about last Sunday. I “know”—that is, I’ve been told and have read—to be extra careful when it’s drizzling and to stay away from the middle of the road. But apparently safe riding habits hadn’t made it into my muscle memory yet, as Monday I was enjoying the mild day and thinking about what books I would look for at the library, and next thing I knew I was on the ground. Nothing like a few bruises to make a muscle memory and to drive home better habits.

Most life lessons get learned the hard way, I guess. I know that I changed my habits of interacting with others only after hurting a lot of feelings and suffering a lot of painful misunderstandings. I often wonder what it takes to wake people up from their habitual way of living to confront problems—rising sea levels? What about you—had any wake-up calls lately?