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routine/ritual

For most of us, the days have a certain order. We rise, wake ourselves up through whatever means, and go about our lives doing what we do. I certainly have my routine. I go so far as to write it down in a big notebook that promises if I employ ultimate discipline to what I do with my minutes, I will see subsequent increased creativity and productivity. It promises me that if I don’t veer off the path I’ve set for myself then I will get all of the little things done and out of the way and my mind will then be clear to be my most creative and even loving because I’ll be happier that I’m not wasting my time. Of course, there are spaces for writing down what I’m grateful for, what I’m excited about, and at the end of the day I’m supposed to write down how I won (this is a little C. Sheen for me but I go with it) and also how I can do better the next day.

I like the notebook. It keeps me on track, aware of how I want and need to spend my time, and keeps me from getting bogged down in emails, little tasks, and the things that can suck the juice right of me and my day. I’d like to keep clear from the distractions of what can sometimes feel like a ridiculous, misguided world obsessed with the wrong things. It also allows me to see the shortness of every day and yes, life. Hence, I have started to not quite but almost obsessively protect my time and the notebook is my security guard. I block out time for meditation, exercise, writing, cooking, even thinking, and it all seems to flow better. But I wonder, have I become an utter bore with this mess? Am I becoming inflexible? Was I ever flexible to begin with? Is all of this necessary? Because I am a human with wide interests and a magpie soul, I think yes for now. I can imagine an older, wiser me that doesn’t need blocks of time allotted for all of the things I need to do in order to not be a failure at life, but I’m not old and wise yet.

Most successful people have a routine, we know that. Even creative people need one in order to be ready to be creative when the notion strikes. We must keep in good practice with our skill sets — for what good is lightning if you have no bottle? Good work is more often than not steady work. One of my favorite books is Mason Curry’s “Daily Rituals: How Artists Work.” But today I’m wondering about the difference between routines and rituals. Routines are thought of as boring — activities we do by rote that carry us mindlessly through our days. Ritual is imbued with religious and spiritual connotation. But can routine and ritual meet? I ask myself if I might dig deeper into every activity in order to first, bring real meaning to it and second, figure out that if something doesn’t allow for real meaning if I should really be doing it. Maybe all that is needed to bring meaning to something is to be fully present while in the process of whatever it is. If I am making a cup of coffee or washing a dish or writing this sentence, can I keep the same level of awareness from one thing to the next? Can I have a present spirit and mind while I’m feeding the dog? And if I’m reading a newsletter from some “improve yourself” website because it came to my inbox and I’m zoning out, then shouldn’t I hit unsubscribe?

I’m going to get to my early afternoon ritual of making my favorite winter health tonic and maybe think further about this. If I’m thinking about it, am I doing it?
Oh, how the mind spirals.

Here’s the recipe for you:
Combine the juice from a lemon, about an index finger’s length of peeled, sliced ginger, a tablespoon of bioactive or local or raw honey, a teaspoon of turmeric, and a little cayenne pepper if you please with as much hot water as you want. I usually make a teapot full and sip on it all afternoon when I’m home. It not only tastes good but will also, I think, ward off the scurvy and whatever cold is waiting to jump on you. The cayenne will rev you up in all kinds of ways.

Happy Monday, Y’all.
AM

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