I can see the appeal of ritual in society. I always felt self-conscious when taking up a passed-on ritual whose invention I didn’t witness, because the meaning wouldn’t pass on efficiently down the generations. (A big reason I’m no longer practicing a religion.) But some tasks that are better practiced exactly the same way every day for efficiency’s sake can transmute to a ritual, especially if so little of your brain is used in the task that you devote the rest of your brain to meditation.
A recent morning found me making a discovery, and being glad that I was in just the right mood to get the significance.
We’ve had a number of little annoyances, you might even call them adversities, in the kitchen. The switch I replaced is now shorting out somewhere, and the light comes on by itself, so we’ve had to unscrew the bulb and do without our main overhead light until I can fix it again. The sink and dishwasher don’t properly drain, leaving a standing water problem which just gets worse when we use the faucet too much.
This particular morning, I found myself, without a whole lot of calculation, filling the dirty frying pans with a quarter-inch of water and a drop of dish soap and setting them to the burners on the stove to heat. It was then that I realized what a good habit this would prove to be, and that I’d keep it up even after the draining issue is solved, since in the warm months we keep the oil burner off 23 out of 24 hours to save oil, and only turn them on in the morning to heat water for showers. This way I can wash the pans immediately, rather than run the water, and shave minutes off last summer’s breakfast time. And the pans and burners will already be heated to cook sooner.
It hit me: that’s the function of adversity. It’s the necessary ingredient of resourcefulness. It’s when you discover shortcuts and “lifehacks” that make sense even after the adversity. And the bigger the adversity, the more clever the resourcefulness. Providing you can keep your wits about you.
By you, I mean me.