Anti-ritual ritual

My problem with rituals is that they don’t clash well with my personality. Rituals are cues that set off a course of events, typically productive events. For instance, we ritualize brushing our teeth or removing make up in order to go to bed. I stay away from these cues because I know rituals would trap me inside of them. If I commit myself to something, I dedicate myself entirely. So if I were to ritualize lighting a candle before starting to write, I would have to do every time. The problem is that it isn’t practical to light a candle every time I go to work on an assignment. Sometimes there are no matches, no lighters, and no candles. My brain would scrape against this reality, unable to comprehend, and so I’d never get to work. Of course, I could come up with a less demanding ritual—perhaps a pre-writing mantra—but I’d lose my mind in routine.

When I think of the writing process that went into my first Gateway assignment, I remember a disjointed creation that took place wherever I could fit in moments to write. On one occasion, I went to a friend’s dorm and worked on my project for six hours, eyes glued to screen, unaware of people flowing in and out of the room. Another writing day kept me in solitude at a desk, a more traditional approach. Yet another time, I found myself writing while standing; my laptop lay on my lofted bed. Each time, I inched closer to a finished product. The only thing that connected these fragments of production was the open letter they produced (my gateway assignment).

All respect to Tharp, but I think I’ve managed to be mostly productive in my own anarchist type of process. What gets me to work is the work itself. It needs to be done. Perhaps subconsciously, gestures like opening my laptop, clicking on the Google Drive icon, creating a new document, viewing Canvas modules, etc. function as mini-rituals. But the trick is not to tie myself to these gestures. Don’t think about them as stimuli, just a pathway to the work. I’d call this my anti-ritual ritual.


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