The streak is dead. Long live the streak.

As I picked up my ebook again this morning, I realized that I was continuing to read from right where I’d left off… two days ago. I cast my mind back to yesterday to recall if I had read farther than I recalled, or maybe read some of the other book I’m reading–now’s one of my unusual times of reading more than one book at a time–or… anything for myself, that wasn’t fundamental for getting through the day. I don’t count things like reading instructions for games, for instance.

Because I have, for years running, read something for myself every day. I told myself back then that I wanted to be able to fairly say some day that for ‘Years, decades, even, I’ve read every day.’

Every. Day.

But yesterday, that didn’t happen.

I wasn’t even particularly busy (there were actually hours of available time when I was doing other things, including editing my last couple of blog posts), I just… forgot. Distracted by other stuff I had to do and wanted to do.

And that’s a key part of it: It’s way easier to build a habit of something when it’s done routinely, but reading had never become that. My life not so routine, so regimented, that I can simply say, “At this specific time every day, I read.” Even before the pandemic, when my wife and I were both working and the kiddo was in school, when things were more routine, the mornings, commute to work and back, what happened after school and evening and when we all got to bed, were rarely (if ever) exactly the same. Even time to myself, like that pleasant stretch after daughter and wife have both gone to bed and I have some time all to myself, even that doesn’t always happen, let alone at the same time every day.

So reading became something I did when I had the chance, and when it was the first thing on the list of what I wanted to/could do. I didn’t force myself to do it in some unpleasant way where I didn’t want to–I’d often rather be reading–but it did take some effort to take note of when and where I could read and take advantage of it.

It’s very similar to writing, which I’ve also got an (as yet unbroken) streak of doing daily for years now. Again, no set time or place, I just do it when I can and when it’s practical.

I was a bit surprised when I discovered the end of my daily reading streak and wasn’t particularly bothered by it. It was disappointing, but not a huge deal. I suppose it was that it was an arbitrary decision to make an effort to read every day and so it wasn’t much of a concern when I found that run had ended. One must be able to forgive oneself for being human and making mistakes, after all. Particularly small ones that only really mattered to oneself anyway.

I will, however, make efforts to start that run again. And I’ll forgive myself slips along the way and just be happy with whatever streak I can manage each time.