March 20, 2006

March of the Penguin

I have a pair of Rocky boots. They are brown, comfortable and have gotten me through the long Minnesota winter to today's Vernal Equinox. I walk every day to work trudging through snow, ice and the occassional global warming rain. When I first put them on in November it's a sign that winter is here. and when I finally take them off in March it's an indication that spring has finally arrived. These boots are more than an important component of my winter defenses. Even more than my coat, hat and gloves this sturdy footwear is on the frontline of the toughest season of the year making contact with the frozen Earth and guarding against a frostbite invasion. They are with me through thick and thin. Yet I hate them.

It's all because of the laces. I tie them dutifully, walk out the door, and five minutes later they are untied again dragging across the ground. It doesn't really matter how tight I tie them. They refuse to stay knotted. It is not uncommon for me to have to tie then 2 or 3 times on my 5-minute walk to or from work. Part of the ordeal arises from the anticipation as I sense the laces coming undone. With each step I can see them unravel a bit more until the laces are finally slapping around like some over-boiled spaghetti noodle. It only adds insult to injury when I have to remove my gloves in the frigid temperatures to tie them, knowing they won't last more than another hundred yards or so.

Yet I keep doing it. Day after day. Month after month. Year after year. It makes no sense. Clearly, the laces have become brittle with age and so defy any kind of knot I try and impose upon them. I'm quite sure there are plenty of stores where I could buy a new pair of laces more cooperative and the cost would be negligent. Yet somehow, unbelievably, I never do. I feel like one of those poor flightless birds in March of the Penguins who trudges across the desolate Antarctic ice only to stand there freezing for months-on-end without eating vainly trying to protect a lone egg. Why do they do that? There has to be a better way. I think it is our routines that can become detrimental if we are not careful. How many of us have grooves long turned into ruts? Most of us, I would hazard to guess.

This March, along with the perennial spring cleaning where we weed out possessions that are no longer required and spruce up our homes, perhaps it would also be advisable if we gave a few of our more entrenched and ill-advised habits a second-look. There's one in particular that I would dearly love to give the boot.