Monday, December 7, 2015

Separating ritual from routine

(Art of Manliness) - For Henry David Thoreau, the summer of 1854 had brought the onset of a stifling malaise — one that had left him feeling “trivial,” “cheap,” and “unprofitable.” The air was dry, the heat was unending, society was pressing in too close around him, and he missed the intensity with which he had lived during his Walden years. So it was with much relief that he greeted the cool nights that arrived with fall, and took advantage of them by taking long walks in the moonlight. Thoreau already thought of his regular, hours-long daytime walks as akin to heroic pilgrimages in which the crusader reconquered “this Holy Land from the hands of the Infidels,” and he brought a similar questing spirit to his moonlit saunters through the woods.

The enemy here was spirit-suffocating triviality, and Thoreau found his night walks to be potently effective in beating back the scourge. He reveled in the cool dampness and mist, thought about how the same moonlight had fallen on humans stretching back thousands of years, and contemplated the way the darkness aroused one’s primeval instincts and symbolized the human unconscious. He often walked along a river, exulting in the way “The sound of this gurgling water…fills my buckets, overflows my float boards, turns all the machinery of my nature, makes me a flume, a sluice-way to the springs of nature. Thus I am washed; thus I drink and quench my thirst.”

While Thoreau’s nocturnal, sense-heightening walks became a regular occurrence, they never became pedestrian. They were never simply a way to get from point A to point B. Rather, they had a purpose beyond their mere mechanics; they were sacred opportunities to re-create himself.

His walks were rituals, rather than routines.

If your life has been feeling trivial, cheap, and unprofitable, the cure may be taking one of your own daily routines and turning it into a spirit-renewing ritual. How exactly you do that is what we’ll be exploring today...
Complete article here.

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