a little less choice

I have a deep love for ritual.

Anyone in a theatre ensemble I've led will attest to that. The gathering, the warming up, the ensemble-building work--the same movements through the same space with the same rules every night. To make space for something new to happen.

And I love rituals in daily life, too. Years ago, I wrote about it often--rituals of friendship, rituals of summer vacation-taking, rituals of grief

In the four years since my daughter was born, my rituals have been more fluid, short-lived, sometimes non-existent. I became a parent, I changed jobs, we moved house twice, I started one broken teapot, and several other big shifts have happened, too.  I reckon in the face of all that change, it was time to let some beloved or at least be-rutted rituals go.

Now, I'm experimenting with creating some new ones that are right for my life now. One at a time. And I'm noticing that committing to a ritual involves letting some freedom go. I won't be choosing what to do in those moments. I won't be fitting something in on the fly. I've already decided what's most important in advance.

We are so used to the freedom of choice that ritual seems scary or maybe just flat undesirable. In that moment of sitting down to write--when my butt is headed toward the chair and I'm opening my laptop--I feel the pull to answer an "urgent" email or get the breakfast started. But I have found that once I take the plunge, I am relieved. I feel better. Paradoxically, I am more free.

PS: I'm reading Barry Schwartz's The Paradox of Choice, and that inspired the thoughts leading to this post. I recommend it.

PS Again: Since I drafted this post, I've read Gretchen Rubin's Better Than Before. I thought, "Well, I shouldn't even post this, because Gretchen Rubin already wrote a whole, well-researched book about this exact thing." But I decided to post it anyway.  Because there's nothing new under the sun. And because maybe a book's too long for you but a post isn't.  And because maybe it'll inspire you to read her book.