Believe it or not some degree of thought does go into the weekly column I have being given the opportunity to write for the past couple of decades.

It is not uncommon for me to dream about what I am going to write. Other times I can be found pacing from one end of the Henley hacienda to the other, waiting for something profound to come to mind. Unfortunately, as anyone who reads this column on a regular basis can attest, the “profound train” rarely, if ever, stops at my “station” these days. Consequently, rather than turn out 600 words of profound prose on a given topic I do good to come up with a handful of paragraphs that at least are coherent.

One afternoon last week I could be found wearing a path on the living room carpet as I paced back and forth, contemplating the similarities and differences between a hobby and a habit.

According to the Internet a hobby is considered to be a regular activity that is done for enjoyment, typically during one’s leisure time, not professionally and not for pay. In contrast, the definition of a habit is a regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.

A hobby can take any number of forms. Before the COVID virus arrived my sister, Jane, and her husband, Bill, would pack up their trailer and go near and far with other members of a traveling club. My father-in-law, Don, took up clowning for a while as a hobby.

As for me, when I was much younger playing slow-pitch softball was my hobby. While many softball players take a casual approach to the sport, not me. During the winter months, when it was just too frigid to be outside, I was working on my hitting in the batting cage I had set up in my basement. To hone my fielding and throwing I was constantly on the lookout for someone willing to hit me flyballs. I rarely, if ever, missed a practice, let alone a game.

By no stretch of the imagination was I one of Hannibal’s best softball players. Truth be told I wasn’t even one of the best players on the team for which I played, but I sure had fun milking the most I could get out of the athletic ability God gave me.

My other hobby about which I was very passionate was photography. It did not matter how hot or cold it might have been, if there was a shot to be taken, chances were good I would be out trying to capture the image.

As for habits, I don’t know why, but when I started to compile a list of them my mind immediately started churning out the negative, such as drinking too much alcohol before attempting to drive, excessive eating and smoking.

But as I paced in my house it occurred to me that there are any number of good habits a person can establish, such as eating healthy, exercising regularly, and setting time aside for prayer and Bible study. And in this COVID age health officials will tell you that wearing a mask, exercising social distancing and washing your hands frequently are good habits to establish.

I will not lie to you and say I have never had a negative habit, but I can tell you honestly that I never dabbled with drugs, alcohol or tobacco. Why? Because I was fearful I would not have the willpower to stop, which could allow a bad habit to become a life-altering addiction.

And then there is the cost. While I do not know the cost of illegal drugs or alcohol, according to a study conducted by WalletHub, the average Missouri smoker will spend $1,702,848 during their lifetime to sustain their habit. Talk about one very costly habit.

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