We all must admit that we do the same things everyday in the same way. It gives order to our lives that can seem chaotic, and gives us a sense of comfort as the familiar always does. The way we brush our teeth, for example, is a ritual in which we follow the same motions day after day.
For those of us who make coffee in the morning, there is a flow of movement that, if interrupted, can result in the inability to proceed and we must start over. Filling the pitcher with cold water while putting the filter in the basket and adding the scoops of coffee grounds – timed perfectly to the second that the pitcher is full and ready to pour. If this is interrupted for some reason, we were so unaware of our flow of motion that we can’t remember how to pick up where we left off – at least, not without a massive amount of concentration . . . which we cannot produce first thing in the morning without our coffee.
I have rituals on my mail route that keep me going. I have a house at the end of a street where there is a little fake deer under a small tree. (I believe there is a certain mentality that goes along with people who put not-so-real-looking deer in their yards, but that’s another blog.) Each time I swing past this spot I say aloud, as if surprised, “Oh! A deer!” The irony of this escapes one if you did not know that, at any given moment, I can pretty much look out the windows of my own house and see deer eating, deer sleeping, deer pooping, and yes, playing. “Where the deer and the antelope play . . ” (No buffalo roaming, of course.) I have fake flowers everywhere because they eat all the real ones every year. They even pull the fake ones out of the ground and out of my flower pots to make sure they’re fake. I wonder, if I put fake deer out there, would it keep the real ones away?
When I stare in the mirror to tweeze my eyebrows, my mind goes to the Dairy Queen in St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin. I have no idea how this came about, but I noticed it several years ago. I start tweezing and I find myself in line, waiting for a chocolate dipped cone or a hot fudge and caramel sundae . . . and then I head downstairs to the freezer and have a bowl of ice cream. This has brought me to the conclusion that I should not tweeze my eyebrows when there is ice cream in the house. It’s one of my many diets. So if you notice my eyebrows looking bushy, instead of pointing it out to me, ask, “Have you lost weight?” . . .
When I am vacuuming, I will run over a piece of string several times, from different angles, pick it up to verify what it is, and then put it back down to give the vacuum another chance to get it. Why???
When I get ready for company, I put everything that’s sitting ‘out’ in a box and stuff it in the closet. (This is a confession) There are boxes of papers that I haven’t gotten to in years. They whisper my name in the night sometimes and keep me awake. If I die in my sleep, who will go through them? And will they cuss me the whole time?
What is it that keeps us from throwing away the un-necessary stuff that fills our closets and outbuildings? After all, I didn’t live through the great recession! Do I really think that, during the apocalypse, I’m going to be rich because I save all those old knives with broken handles, magazines, (with pictures of real trees! Think: Water world!). That I will be the only person with 10 cases of water in my basement and enough cans of Bushs baked beans to fuel our vehicles for a year? Need I mention how many people will seek me out for my baskets of un-matched socks??
“Please Mum, me children ‘ave no socks cause I don’t ‘ave any broken knives to hunt with so’s I can earn money to buy them.”
Of course, in the meantime, they make great sock puppets with which to entertain my grandchildren, whom I never get to see because I’m working full time . . . and on my days off, I don’t have time to make sock puppets because I have boxes of paper in my closets that need going through.
These are the struggles that fill up our ordinary days. This is life happening while we’re making plans. I have plans to go through all those boxes. . . but not today. Right now, I’m just going to look out the window for inspiration.
“Oh! A deer!”