ritual // routine

For Melete, for Ananke and Lethe. For new practices. For ritual. Against routine.
Coming into play these days is the art of undoing and remaking routine. We are lost in the madness of uncertainty, of systemic and structural collapses, both within and without. We are without our routines to which we’d affix without thought, routines that were taken for granted.

And we are now finding ourselves making, mixing, and trying-on brand new routines, as each new day brings to light another endless stream of unknowns.
It’s uncomfortable, uncertain. And, look! It’s scary! The world’s all topsy-turvey! Things that were before are not!
There is pleasure and delight in well-known routines. There is deep comfort in an old habit. We can feel an internal push against alterations, a rejection of changes. It is uncomfortable to step off your own well-beaten path.

But trodding along a well-beaten path, day in, day out, invokes a sort of forgetfulness.

Things which once were new and exciting begin to blend into the background. Our blinders come on. Nothing to the left, nothing to the right, there is only straight ahead.
We have so well practiced these repetitions, these steps-by-steps, we could do them in our sleep, and they might have gone on being automatic.
But here’s the danger in routine.

Mindless repetition. Force of habit. Our routine: unquestioned and unchallenged. We forget why and how we have done what we are doing, and just keep doing.
Every broken habit is a chance to fix another one. Every neglected routine invites a new routine to take its place. It is time to embrace that discomfort. It is time to practice new practices.
In the creation of new routines, I call upon ritual.
But what is ritual in the face of routine?

There is a difference between the two.

Repetition and routine facilitate a sense of going through the motions, sapping action of context, content, history, remembrance, and story.

Routine becomes repetition, a mindless act.

Yet, intentionality is at the heart of the ritual.
As we build our new routines, let us do them ritually. Let action and act be done with mindful intention, with meditation, with remembrance and thought.
In many ways, we have been given a blank slate. We have been given a chance to do-over. Many of our routines have been shaken away and we have a chance (before creating these new ones) to scrutinize the old, learn from their mistakes, their breaks, and the ways they didn’t work.

Protected with this knowledge, we can rebuild our lives and the lives of our kin, for the better. 

It is now that we can see clearly the fissures in the foundations that we took for granted.
In this moment of uncertainty, there’s a chance for a certain clarity, when our path is undercut.

It is like the sunlight breaking through the clouds we thought were our sky.

We can now see how our well beaten path is actually full of rocks and holes and thorns. Just because a path is well-trodden doesn’t mean it’s the best path to take.

 We can now see how endlessly the great blue sky stretches outwards. We can see how big the woods really are, and how many other paths are waiting to be made.