Rituals and Rites

September 1, 2009 at 7:51 am 1 comment

I’ve been thinking a lot about the role of ritual in my life.

Part of what got this thinky-ball rolling was reading the MFA thesis of a relative-in-law. I am fascinated by this project, and the exploration of the self-defining role of ritual in the every-day living of life. “You are what you eat” has kinda made it as an idiom- but “you are what you do” is probably closer to the truth. Especially “you are what you do over and over and over, such that the doing of it is no longer conscious or intentional”.

That’s… wow, that’s a whole lot to digest, right there. And, as someone who deals in formal ritual fairly regularly, its… wow.

So I’ve been thinking a lot about what I do, over and over, especially the things I just do without thinking.

Oddly, with the things I do around child-care I’m pretty comfortable about the person who is defined and created by the repetition of those acts. I’m particularly fond of some of our bed-time rituals. Partly, I think, because I made some intentional choices about how I wanted to parent. I was forced to articulate those choices and values and underlying assumptions to this other human being who is also their parent.

There are a lot of small rituals / patterns / routines / habits in my life that I don’t really like where they’re headed, if I really think about the person they both reveal and create. Its some serious work to examine those un-examined corners, and I’m putting it off as long as I can.

And I wonder if this is part of the appeal of starting a new diet lifestyle change way of approaching food, for a lot of people. All the unthinking rituals and habits around food get re-scripted and made intentional for a while. Add to that all the external validation of someone telling you that the person who is revealed-and-created by following this new ritual of calorie counting, or food journalling, or point tracking, or WHATEVER is a superior person to whoever you were before. That’s a heady mixture.

I’m not really sure what to do with this, yet.
Except to say that you should all go to Jodi’s Etsy Shop and buy lots of her awesome stuff. Because she’s made of win.


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

In Which I Compare and Contrast In Which I Make Lists

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. wellroundedtype2  |  September 1, 2009 at 8:38 am


    I was just having that “I do, therefore I am” internal discussion the other day (before being rudely brought back to the real world by a green traffic light, or something). There are rituals I love but don’t do often. There are rituals I want my daughter to love as much as I do (she tends to have a “take it or leave it” approach to many of our at-home Jewish rituals, but this waxes and wanes).
    One ritual I’m missing at the moment is the one of swimming. Of the smell of the chlorine on my bathing suit, the way the warm water of the shower feels before I get in. The first couple of laps before I find my rhythm when I feel a bit cold and out of breath. The smooth middle part of the workout that feels timeless. The rubbery-leg feeling when I get out of the pool. And the shower afterwards, the slow, deliberate after-shower dressing on the uncomfortable locker room floor and awkward nudity and then scurrying off to work. I definitely feel purified afterwards. Sometimes I even do incorporate some prayer into the swimming and breathing (and not in the sense of “God, make me swim faster.”).
    As usual, much food for thought.

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