I like rituals. Not rituals as in extravagant and lavish ceremonies . But everyday rituals. Every time I think about everyday rituals, it surprises me that I appreciate the repetition of daily activities but I do. I constantly invent little rituals that I can structure my day around. My most recent ritual is a 30 minute music practice in the morning before I start working. I have set up my instrument and speaker so that I only have to push the ‘on’ button and then I can start playing. The 30 minutes is divided into three sections of 10 minutes which allows me to cover just the basics in order to gradually improve my playing. Some days I forget to shift from one section to the next. That really annoys me. Then I will quickly consider if I should maybe extend the daily practice ritual or perhaps rather spend more time on the second section the following day.
When I don’t have meetings or other activities, my work day is structured pretty tightly. I am allowed to check my mail in the morning and at noon. And then again more randomly from 2 p.m. and onwards. That is really not a good idea. Because as soon as I don’t have rule for an activity, I overdo it. So I am considering an afternoon no-mail policy also. My work day is divided into two different work activities: I write in the morning and I read in the afternoon. I know how many words I need to write before noon and it really gets to me if I don’t meet the daily target.
I go for a run every third day. Two 8 kilometer runs and then a longer one on 10 kilometers. And then it starts over again.
If, for whatever reason, I miss two runs in a row or if I don’t make my morning music practice or if I don’t meet my daily word target, I immediately start worrying that this might be a first step towards losing control of my life. I rarely formulate it in those exact words but my frustration and irritation with myself is surprisingly similar to my reaction when I sense that the end of the world is rapidly approaching. Again.
I like rituals. But they cannot endure for too long. Just long enough for me to get the sense that I might be on the right track. Long enough so that I can vaguely discern the contours of a functioning social life built around those rituals. I start to imagine a meditative everyday life where each day is organised in exactly the same way. That comforts me. And then I get restless and have to figure out a way of liberating myself from them.
There are only very few rituals that I have managed to maintain for extended periods of time. Reading the newspaper when I come home from work, playing music for 5-10 minutes after dinner and checking out the market for used left-hand basses during my lunch break. And writing these blog posts. So far.