Thursday, January 4, 2007


A recent magazine from the makers of my beloved Nespresso interviewed a number of notable people from the art world. Five questions were posed to each interviewee. Of the five, the most interesting (to me) was, “Do you have a daily ritual that you absolutely could not do without?” It is a curious question because rituals are one of the ways in which we define ourselves.

I’ve previously mentioned that making a cup of coffee each morning serves as a steadfast ritual to steer me forward through the day. Perhaps that is one I could not do without. I have other regular activities as well: checking email in the morning, writing a little bit each day, things like that. With the possible exception of writing, most of those regular activities are the normal flotsam and jetsam of life. They don’t really rise to the level of ritual. They are necessities perhaps, needed activities to keep life from going off the deep end. But routine practices and chores are not really a ritual. To be a ritual, I think the practice must be 1) regularly performed, 2) essential for self, and 3) a point of departure for greater experiences. Maybe that is too much importance to place on one cup of coffee or a morning jog, but ritual should be more than a mere habit. Even the ordinary can become special.

Rituals can be grand, of course. Nations and organizations create bold, stirring rituals that are shared communally. These are important for a collective identity. But the most significant rituals are those that are personal and quiet, private moments in which you center yourself, place your feet firmly on the ground, and ready yourself for what ever follows. They are yours and yours alone.

So think about it. Do you have a daily ritual that you absolutely could not do without?

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