A random rant about Habits

I am your constant companion.
I am your greatest helper or heaviest burden.
I will push you onward or drag you down to
failure.
I am completely at your command.
Half of the things you do you might as well turn
over to me and I will do them – quickly and
correctly.

The poem above is called “The Habbit Poem” and it’s goal is to remind us how our habits take over our lives. Since I was little I learned to abuse certain skills I picked up along the road. I learned to lie when I could barely speak. Lying saved my ass in numerous occasions, but it also condemned it to a spanking in many others. In 80% of the cases we all lie about certain aspects in our lives, even though we manage to pull it off only in a few. Lying is a habit we all turn to from time to time. We lie to our Boss about certain tasks and activities, we lie to our pals to impress them, we lie to our parents about our lives without them, and we lie to ourselves in order to mask inner wounds. Lying is a habit we all know and love, hate and despise, yet never abandon completely. We do that without realizing it for a brief moment, and then we hide it with more lies. I’ll be frank, I lie constantly. When I take the tram, I pretend to be occupied with my cell phone, so that hot red chick in short skirt won’t notice me checking out her “groceries”. I do this because I want to avoid an necessary conversation between me and that red haired gal’s macho boyfriend. I like my skin unbruised. If he’d ask me why I find her posterior so attractive, I’d say it was her skirt I was checking out, since I’d like to buy one for my girl friend. And thus I covered the first simple lie, with another, of bigger proportions. Telling someone that I’m not single could probably save my skin from being redecorated with blue spots, but it would also put me in a mood of meditation about that subject. I’d get to work, still pondering about the subject and when asked why I’m not focusing on my tasks, I’d lie saying that I’m searching for a solution. Thus, I’d probably set in motion a series of events that would affect my entire day.

Lying is a habit, but not the only one. I’ve been with Gameloft for almost two years know, one of which I spent as a Game Designer. I learned allot of things about game design during this time. I picked up certain habits doing so. When a level, a map, an area which the player explores searching for enemies to kill, or items to loot, is planned, it all starts on paper. I draw it and latter on, I build it with the aid of simple boxes, which I scale, position and rotate. This method is called gray boxing. At first I designed levels with it, but lately, I found another usage for this technique. I solve problems with it. By removing the mesh of a box, I’m left only with it’s collision. It’s appearance is invisible to the player, yet he can interact with it, even though he doesn’t know it. I solved allot of bugs with it, by keeping the player from falling from the map in certain spots, blocking certain areas so he won’t reach it yet, or by creating an invisible force field, keeping him safe from harm at certain points. A useful trick, yet harmful when abused. The 3D artist working on my level doesn’t know about their existence. He notices the bug that causes the player to exit the map, by falling into space. He fixes it and submits a new version, while I’m busy adding new features or fixing existing bugs. That box, the invisible problem solver remains there, as well as 200 others. After a while, they add up, eating up memory space and forcing the FPS to drop.

A habit is a habit only because we allow it to be. We’re human beings, we like comfort, we like to solve problems the easiest way possible. We exist because of our habits and we influence our existence with them. By making a list of all our habits we can define our personality, at least in my case. Maybe it applies to you too. But let’s be honest, don’t we all have that one little habit that we hate? I do, and so do you. Are you smoker, do you like to drink coffee each morning? Do you sing while in the shower? Do you smile each time your see your loved ones? Do you check your Facebook profile every 3 minutes waiting for that one little person to get online, so that you could think of a way to grab her attention, even for gipy? Do you check your horoscope daily? All of this are habits. Some are harmless, some are not. We can learn to control them. Relinquishing them would be of no use. They are called habits for a reason, because they are useful in certain cases.

What if we could control them, what if we could become a better person by mastering our habits? Would it be so bad for once if I ever went up to that red head and her guard dog in order to compliment her? And then stare him down and finish things by saying that he shouldn’t be angry because people are acknowledging his girlfriend’s grace and beauty? This brings me back to the rest of the poem…

I am not a machine though
I work with the precision of a machine
plus the intelligence of a person.
You may run me for profit or run me for ruin –
it makes no difference to me.
Take me, train me, be firm with me, and
I will place the world at your feet.
Be easy with me and I will destroy you.

Our habits are our fictional tools. Tools that help us achieve our goals without putting much effort into it. Let’s all harness them. For one day, why not identify our bad habits and avoid them. For one day, let’s all be aware of our actions. Let’s seek our bad habits and for just 24 hours, avoid them. Who knows, maybe we can change the world in that short period of time.

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