Sunday morning we headed out on a familiar path up Route 6 through Tunkhannock, Laceyville, Meshoppen, and Wyalusing to Wysox where we made a right turn. To those who know well the area, that sharp right turn was in front of the old Poillet mansion and will lead you through Rome and on to Nichols. It was a familiar road, and for at least two decades ended in a race for the words, “I see Gramma’s house,” once we had crossed Gillett’s bridge. In fact the first time we took that road was fifty plus years ago when we drove home from our first apartment in New Jersey when Jim was stationed at Fort Monmouth, and I cannot tell you how many times we have driven that way since that first day sometime in October of 1965.
So Sunday morning we did it again, though not from New Jersey and the drive did not end at Gramma’s house but went on to Windham Summit Bible Church up on the hill. It was an easy drive, made without much thought, so familiar were we with every bend in the road, every village along the way, every farm with cows dotting the hillside, and now every gas truck pulled into a gas station or railroad stop. You could call it because of muscle memory and the countless times we have made that beautiful drive.
If muscle memory is a new term for you, the dictionary defines it as the ability to repeat a specific muscular movement with improved efficiency and accuracy that is acquired through practice and repetition (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/muscle%20memory). Think about how little kids learn most anything. They do it over and over until suddenly they are doing it without thinking, like walking, running, or throwing a ball. And later, they learn to print letters by tracing them over and over until they can suddenly print them without tracing. That’s muscle memory.
Yesterday as we made that drive, the whole idea of muscle memory kept dancing around in my mind until it landed here. Yep, I learned how to do a lot of good things by doing them over and over. We made this beautiful drive out Route 6 with hardly a thought because it was so familiar. But I began to wonder, what else has become so familiar that I do it without even thinking.
There are all kinds of good things, like going to church on Sunday, reading my devotional and Bible passages every day, and the routine of the breakfast I make for my husband, laying out the breakfast dishes and filling the coffeemaker before I go to bed.
But are there bad things that have snuck into my muscle memory, bad choices that have become habitual and that I do without thinking? Like buying Oreo Thins, rationalizing that they are thin after all, but that does not make them good because my muscles know the way to that cookie jar all too well. Like playing another solitaire game on my phone because I have a few moments to kill when there are many other worthwhile things I should be doing with my time…and I won’t bother you with all the excuses I can make for that one.
I am glad for the muscle memory that leads us back to Bradford County but maybe you like me, have some other things that muscle memory tricks us into doing. Maybe this week, you, like me, might be a bit more mindful of where our muscle memory takes us.
Thanks for reading.
Mansion photo from https://sites.google.com/site/dominiquepiollet2/piollet_mansion_wysox
Practice image from http://crystalandcomp.com/handwriting-practice-for-kids-a-is-for-alligator/