April 11th, 2021


Would You Repeat That, Please?

Greg Crosby

By Greg Crosby

Published Sept. 23, 2016

The average human being spends more than 73% of his life repeating himself. Allow me to say that again. The average human being spends more than 73% of his life repeating himself. And now I'll say it for my politically correct feminist readers. The average human being spends more than 73% of HER life repeating HERself. I'll stop there.

Actually that first paragraph is not entirely true. I made up the 73% part. Don't get mad at me, I have my reasons. I wanted to get your attention and you must admit it worked.

The percentage is really not the point because the fact is we do spend an awful lot of our time engaging in repetitive activities. If you doubt that, consider how many times you have brushed your teeth just in the last year alone. Hopefully brushing your teeth counts as a repetitive activity in your life. If not, I don't want to know who you are.

Getting dressed for most of us is a daily occurrence. Day in and day out we go through the same motions of putting on clothes and shoes. And at the end of the day the putting away of clothes and shoes is yet another repetition. Cleaning, any type of cleaning is repetition. You dust, you sweep, you vacuum, you polish, you wash, you scrub. It would be very nice if you only had to do all that one time in your life, but no. Repeat, repeat, repeat. We keep mowing our lawns over and over again. Then we help maintain the process by watering that same lawn again and again. We have to keep painting the house. We keep washing the car. It never stops and it never will.

Dust keeps coming back. Lawns keep growing. Dishes get dirty and always need to be washed. Same with clothes. Same with your body. And your hair. Literally everything we have has to be constantly re-cleaned otherwise it gets disgusting. So we go through the motions of cleaning over and over and over. See what I mean? Our lives are consumed with a series of repetition chores.

And it's not only chores. We pay taxes every year. We follow the same sports season after season. Every night we go to sleep. Every morning (if we're lucky) we wake up. Every day we eat. Every night we drink (well, some of us anyway). We hear a joke and we laugh. We're not laughing for the first time, we are laughing the same laugh that we used when we laughed at other things that struck us funny in the past. Crying is the same thing, another series of repeat emotions.

Personally I don't like having to repeat myself. The exception would be if I loused up whatever it was I did the first time, then sure I'll do it all over again to get it right. But if it was good enough the first time I did it, well, that should be enough of that. Why repeat something that was done correctly the first time? You can't improve upon perfection.

As if normal repetition isn't enough, once we get to a certain age, well, that's when repeating really kicks in. Loss of hearing leads to an increase in our vocabulary of words and phrases such as "What?" "I didn't catch that." "Say that again." "What was that?" and "Quit mumbling!"

Those phrases become our most common responses when being spoken to, which necessitates the speaker to repeat whatever was originally said to us, only louder.

Also, as we grow older we repeat all the stories, information, jokes, and ideas that we've said time and time again throughout our lives to our friends and loved ones.

When your beloved wife interrupts you with "Yes, I know, I know," after you've only uttered two words, it's a pretty good indication that you've repeated yourself for the umpteenth time.

So like it or not, life is repetition. You've probably read my column before. But if this is the first time you've read me, chances are you will read me again in the future. If I'm lucky.

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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. He's been a JWR contributor since 1999.