Veronica on July 19th, 2011
I have a thing for routine and ritual. I love the idea of frameworks that ground us in time, repetitive acts that are done more for the pleasure and comfort of repetition and the potential to build something meaningful than out of the drudgery of obligation.
“If you lived in a previous era you’d be the one out in front leading the chants with candles and bells,” my partner told me after yet another “hey, I have an idea!” moment that involved making grocery shopping a weekly “ritual” complete with a just-us stop for pizza and gelato.
“I’ve already done that” I hastened to assure him. And it’s true. I’ve long had a mild obsession with liturgical sacraments, an obsession that has taught me the healing nature of enacting meaningful movements or vocalizing meaningful words repeatedly — the enriching experience of building a practice.
Like many perfectionists, I’m fabulous at making plans but find it challenging to take the step to enacting them, falling victim often to that risk-avoiding tactic of procrastination (never start, never fail). But I heartily agree with yoga teacher and activist Sean Corne when she says “It’s important to set an intention and let your body activate that intention.” For those of us who can live in our heads, living embodied life is a skill that we can’t afford not to learn.
“How we live our days is, of course, how we live our lives,” Annie Dillard famously wrote. “A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days…a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands … a haven set into the wreck of time.” Those of us who are artists and writers often have to remind ourselves that a schedule’s a good place to start. Or restart.
The challenge is to intentionally cultivate routines that allow us to be present to our lives and those we love, and to be focused and loving in our actions. Like all aspirations, there’s a balance here. But as long as I can craft ritual that grounds me without fettering me, bring on the candles and bells. Or groceries and pizza.