I haven’t been sleeping well lately — I woke up at 4 this morning, got up at 5 after failing to fall back into sleep. So I got up, and did my morning thing on autopilot.
Go to the bathroom. Wash hands and face. Go to kitchen. Start water boiling. While I’m waiting, feed the cat. Wash the coffee press. Grind coffee beans. Wash two cups. Add milk to one. Pour boiling water over coffee. Stand, waiting, two minutes. Think about the day to come. Pour coffee into cups. Carry the one with milk to the bedroom for my wife. Carry the one without to my office. Sit. Turn on the computer. Write something…”chop wood, carry water.”
I’m thinking this is ritual. It’s a pattern that provides a solid foundation to my day, and as a bonus, it gets things done. It might not be a grand accomplishment, but it carries me forward day by day, and makes sure I get out of bed with a plan and a series of little actions, and sets a pattern for doing. Just doing.
Ritual can be a good thing.
I can also see where it’s a danger, when it changes into a pattern of not doing, when it becomes a rut that carries one to nowhere. I’m not concerned that making coffee and feeding the cat is a path to uselessness, but I can imagine a ritual of distraction and pointlessness that can consume day after day, so I also have to be prepared to break the rituals and take pleasure in change.
Chop wood, find a new spider, carry water, teach, make the coffee, write something you didn’t write before.