The Ritual Project

I’ve been working on an idea since I started my most recent contract job, and I’m just now starting it in practice. In short, it’s a ritual-building practice, focused on direct and indirect ways to build little rituals into my life.

Why do this? I tend to be a curious thinker. I question pretty much everything, and usually try to get to the heart of whatever it is that’s occupying my mind. Sometimes this is helpful, like when I’m trying to solve a problem at work or trying to figure out why someone who is disagreeing with me would do that.

Most of the time, it’s exhausting.

I don’t actually need to dissect the nature of agricultural history when I’m picking apples to try. I don’t need to optimize Sundays.

So, I’m trying out a new idea I came across while skating across the internet one day (for the life of me I can’t find the original article.) I’m adding a few small rituals into my life, one at a time, letting each one settle for 3-4 weeks until it’s ingrained and it’s time to start a new one.

Now, up until now, I’ve had an… aversion to any kind of routine. I thrive on improving things and charting new courses, and routines either don’t need much help, or they exist in a place beyond reason and the possibility for change. So I ignored them. And I was wrong.

Rituals can be beautiful. They can be used to show others your esteem, or cement social bonds. (Something I, until recently, severely undervalued.)

Moreover, rituals provide meaning and constancy in life. As a project-oriented person, I regularly find myself making exceptions for short term needs at the expense of long term goals. More often than not this gets me into trouble. I also get frustrated with work challenges more easily, because I have little else to distract my focus when a problem does arise.

So, since I’m making an effort to improve myself, I decided to try out a few new rituals and see if I can find something meaningful in them.

The first ritual is: lunch. Yep. Lunch.

I’ll start with the fact that I’m not big on lunch as a concept. Most of my early career was marked by eating in sterile, sad spaces, or making a run for the nearest sandwich shop and hoping the line wouldn’t be too long so I could get back before my break ended. And then I would eat alone, at my desk. I wasn’t a fan.

Things got a little better once I moved up and away from government work, but I still undervalued lunch. I would almost always eat alone, either a rushed salad from the buffet downstairs, or a prepacked sandwich from somewhere or another. But I never really grew to appreciate it. It was predictable, dull, and usually rushed. Something to politely endure, rather than enjoy.

So, now that I more or less work for myself, I’m trying some lunchtime rituals to see if I can’t make something beautiful out of my least favorite meal. Over the next three weeks I’m going to try some new recipes, eating with people, some timing tweaks, and a post-lunch walk. And whatever else I come up with along the way.

And of course, I’m going to ‘gram it.

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