I’ve been thinking a lot about rituals the past few days, and the rituals that I have. I like the idea of them – the power behind that word – but I don’t think I have that many.
I have my early morning ritual of course – wake up, do 10-15 minutes of Shiva Nata, make a large cup of tea in my David Bowie mug, and then write in my journal. The cup of tea and journal writing has been my ritual for years and years. Even in high school, I’d wake up 45 minutes earlier than I had to so I had the time to write and collect my thoughts. You can blame Julia Cameron and the Artist’s Way.
It’s been my habit for years, and I enjoy it. It steadies my days. Since Christmas, I’ve added Shiva Nata, a type of yoga (sort of). It’s kind of hard to explain, so I’ll just direct you to the Shiva Nata site.
Again, this lends a sort of steadiness to my days.
But I realized that the rest of my day is just a free fall into chaos. I have little routine, and there’s no rhyme or reason to what I do. I seem to spend most of my day in reaction mode, responding to the latest crises or whim that pops into my head or inbox.
I’m not looking for a rigid routine, but I would like some structure. I’m envisioning the time management equivalent of a well tailored suit – enough structure to feel good, but I can still move in it. I don’t want something so rigid that I can’t go out for coffee with a friend if they have time, but I’m also disliking the way my days just dissipate.
I think for me, ritual is tied into the idea of meaningful action. I know I fritter away my time sometimes, and I’m a procrastinator extraordinaire. And I think underneath that lack of meaningful action is a stuck place. I think there’s more to it than just laziness and a tendency to get distracted.
I think I don’t take my work seriously enough.
For example, I’m supposed to have 6 landscape paintings ready for my gallery in May. I’ve known about this since September. Do you know how many I have finished? None. Not a single one. I’ve got one at 80% and a second one just started. That’s it.
At first, it was because May seemed so far away. But then I began to fill my time with other things – web design, technical administration. Things I’m not passionate about. Things to “pay the bills.”
But soon all I was doing was paying the bills. I stopped painting for more than a few hours a week, if that – and usually stuck in on a Saturday or Sunday. I’ve frittered away months and months of time, time I could have been painting.
One could just skewer me for being lazy, for procrastinating, for not managing my time well enough, and I suppose all those things would be true.
But the important question is why. Why would I put off my art? Why would I ignore an important deadline?
And I think the answer is, because I have trouble taking my art seriously. Especially since I’ve moved out of my parents’ house. There is a strong part of my brain that says I need to be responsible now, that I need to stop dilly dallying with this whole art thing and settle down to a nice, boring, stable career. Preferably something that drives me batty and makes me irritable and miserable.
So ummm…what does this have to do with rituals?
Hahaha, good question. This was definitely one of those stream of consciousness posts.
I think what all of this means is I need rituals to support meaningful action and that support my desire to do my art full time. I need rituals that get me into the habit of taking my art seriously because the ritual would help it become the focus of the day. The special, important bit. Not the afterthought.
So now I turn it over to you. Do you have artistic or creative rituals? Do you ever struggle with taking your art or craft seriously? How do you take meaningful action on a daily basis? I’d love to hear from you.