— John Gardner, interview, The Paris Review
I’m haunted by this line; I think about it all the time. It’s even the epigraph to my new book on habit-formation, Before and After— along with a quotation by William James (of course; you can’t talk about habits without quoting William James).
It’s a line with many, many meanings. In the context of habit-formation, I think about it whenever I ponder the Four Tendencies. Because, whether you’re an Upholder like me, or a Rebel, or a Questioner or an Obliger, there’s no evading it: every time you break the law you pay, and every time you obey the law you pay.