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"Second Nature"

Posted by ESC on February 08, 2004

In Reply to: "Second Nature" posted by Bob on February 08, 2004

: : My child asked once where the phrase "second nature" came from. Also...what would be one's "first" nature

: : Kim

: When you practice something long enough, you become so proficient that it seems almost instinctual, almost like something that you would do "naturally." That is, our "first nature" is what we would do without reflection, instruction, or conscious thought.

SECOND NATURE -- "Said of a habit or way of doing things that has become so ingrained that it is instinctive." From "Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable" revised by Adrian Room (HarperCollinsPublishers, New York, 1999, Sixteenth Edition).

The first nature would be those things we are genetically programed to do, like, the song says: "breathing out and breathing in."

My Fair Lady
I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face

I've grown accustomed to her face!
She almost makes the day begin.
I've grown accustomed to the tune
She whistles night and noon.
Her smiles. Her frowns.
Her ups, her downs,
Are second nature to me now;
Like breathing out and breathing in.
I was serenely independent and content before we met.
Surely I can always be that way again-
And yet
I've grown accustomed to her looks,
Accustomed to her voice;
Accustomed to her face.
But I'm so used to hear her say "Good morning" ev'ry day.
Her joys, her woes,
Her highs, her lows,
Are second nature to me now;
Like breathing out and breathing in.
I'm very grateful she's a woman
and so easy to forget;
Rather like a habit
One can always break and yet,
I've grown accustomed to the trace
Of something in the air;
Accustomed to her face.