T.A. Barnhart

carpe bucko

rituals

My life is full of odd rituals.

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For example, the first thing I do when I get up is to make my bed. I know a lot of people do that first thing, just because it’s easy and then it’s done. But since my bed is also the only place I have to sit and relax, I roll up the comforter and then prop my two pillows against it so I have a place to sit later. I do this the same way every morning.

Then I make tea, and I again follow the same routine: water into the kettle, tea leaves into a tea bag (I am particular about my tea), hot water into mug, wait til water boils, and a few more steps but your eyes have probably glazed over by now so nevermind.

And then, before I drink, a new step in the ritual: I rub the dead skin from my lips because I have found that if I don’t, it comes off and sticks rather aggressively to the hot porcelain of the mug. Yes, weird and a bit gross, but I am sure most people have at least a few strange “quirks” of some kind.

I have a bunch, and I’ve only just started thinking about them in terms of rituals, of repeated steps I take when performing certain tasks. I’m not trying to invoke the good will of some diety by performing these; I am simply doing things in a way that brings an outcome I desire.

This could be called a habit or a routine or even (sorry, Sally) a “best practice”. I think there is more intention with a ritual. There are no gods to placate or plead to, but the desire to perform certain acts in order to have good outcomes remains. But instead of a god doing me a favor because I jumped through the proper hoops (and what kind of asshole god, with all that power, would make those kinds of demands of such weak creatures as humans?), I am purposefully following specific steps that I know will lead to good outcomes.

I am invoking the good will of my own intentions. I know how powerless I am in this world, but I also know that at the least, my tea ritual will get me a satisfying cuppa. Find me a god who can provide that level of service and I’ll sign up as an acolyte immediately.

Because of my mental illness, my life is something I do not like. I do not have a career. I do not get to do the things I wish I could do. I don’t have the relationships I want. I am one of the working poor. I watch daily as my gifts and talents are squandered by an illness I didn’t even know I had most of my life.

So I control what I can. And while for most of my life things like how I make tea were little more than habits or routines, I an now looking at them as rituals. There is no god to appease (and fuck the idea of appeasing asshole gods) or plead with for help. I only have myself, brittle and unreliable as I am. 

So if it takes performing the T.A. Tea Ritual in the proper manner to appease me, I will do so with the earnestness of the twenty-one year old kid who thought early morning Bible study would help him become worthy of salvation.

Only now with eyes and mind open to reality, grim though it might be. And as I learned from my years in England so long ago, a good cuppa can make almost anything better.

T.A. Barnhart