It is amazing to me at times, when I am thinking of one thing, how my mind segues on to something else, and sprints down a whole ‘nother’ line of thought.

Case in point: It was in the middle of the afternoon on New Year’s Day (I forget what I was doing at the time), but I suddenly remembered that I hadn’t planned on having my usual new year’s meal of black-eyed peas, collard greens and cornbread for luck and prosperity in the coming year. From that thought, my mind led me to thoughts of other things that I do, or don’t do — things and habits that add up to make me, me, be it because of culture, environment, history, DNA or whatever.

For instance, I will never, ever walk under a ladder or pick up a penny unless it is heads up. Whenever I go to get weighed at the doctor’s office, I empty my pockets of anything that will add weight and I always step on the scale with my shoeless right foot first. Always. I know, I am probably the only person who does that.

Wait, there’s more. I try not to step on cracks in the sidewalk and am careful about not breaking mirrors. I don’t split poles (when two people are walking together each person walks on either side of a pole, fire hydrant or other people it’s called ‘splitting the pole’) without saying, “Bread and Butter.”

If a black cat crosses in front of me, I will do an about face and retrace my steps. I am serious.

One thought right after another came to me. There is my habit of sitting, when I come home, simply sitting in my car, in my driveway, for at least a half an hour to listen to the end of a CD that I could very well play in the house. Or, to sit there for that time of reflection with no music at all, just my thoughts and the quiet.

Or, how, every day, I gratefully get out of the bed (thank God) in the morning, full of pep and energy as if I had already had two cups of coffee. Simply high on life. Good to be here.

These are some of the things that make up me. These are some of the thoughts that stem from that initial realization that I didn’t remember to plan to have, for dinner, black-eyed peas, greens and cornbread on New Year’s Day 2020.

Jim Eckstrom is executive editor of the Olean Times Herald and Bradford Publishing Co. His email is