The habit of ritual. What is it? Why do we need it? Is it a crutch? (the morning cigarette). A sin? (the morning drink). A menace? (the morning after). Or, is it comforting, reliable, there when you need to find calm in a storm, quiet in chaos, peace in madness?
When do we practice it? A Thanksgiving meal, coffee with breakfast and wine with dinner, de-cluttering, blessing ceremonies for babies, toasting before a meal, going to church on Sundays, synagogue on High Holidays, and a mosque during Ramadan – these are all habits of ritual. What is the purpose? Bar for the moment mass hysteria, global catastrophes and spirituality- as individuals, do we crave the habit of ritual to expel fear and find comfort in our own skin where there is none? To reassure ourselves of something?
There are years of thoughts, poems, essays, stories, and gobbledygook coming out of me now with a sense of urgency. In its current phase, it looks (and feels) like blind chaos and fury being released through my mouth and fingertips. I need my ritual (i.e the writing process) in order to maintain control of my internal mayhem. I don’t always do it, but I know I need to. It keeps my mind, body and soul from completely imploding.
Always in my mind I ‘feel’ little demons (hobbits?) that chip away at me with their picks and axes. chip. chip. chip. chip. chip. And when I don’t write habitually, their work song is louder. CHIP. CHIP. CHIP. CHIP. CHIP. I hear this when I neglect my ritual for the sake of (more important) things or when I’m just plain scared, staring at my computer from the couch where the pity party is, berating my self for not utilizing every spare moment typing away. The demon/hobbits start chipping at that moment: Baby is asleep! Dinner is over! Write, dammitt, write! You must create something beautiful! And you must do it NOW!
I have existed in a state of perpetual transition and change for many months. Am I craving the beauty and solitude for calm in a storm? My life, career, and identity have all been touched; in my dreams the same movie shows. Reel upon reel of images and memories, of ‘could haves‘ or ‘should haves’ and the resentments and anger that need to be released via ritual de lo habitual. In the end, it comes down a contest between the ritual and that bastard called self-sabotage. So, no matter how successfully or pathetically, I write. I’m ready. A neophyte.
I know on some level what it is I need to do in this life time- I just need to be there. I know in my heart of hearts my ritual releases, clears, gives me breath, lifts me… moves me forward. If I could have a bonfire around me while I write I would, but (for now) I don’t. Just imagined space, headphones, and the need to keep going.