Volume 1, Issue 12: On Ritual and Creation

Hi friends! In the before times, I would frequently wear a bold lipstick. But now I am wearing a mask when I leave the apartment so I’ve stepped up my earring game:

<image is closeup of my earring, which is a large clear resin rainbow with glitter and a strap of my overalls with an enamel pin that says "hello I'm doing my best">

Finding little bits of joy where I can, you know?

I’ve been having a lot of conversations with loved ones where we talk about “the thing we’re doing that gives us a sense of having our shit together because everything else feels out of control.”

For my wife, it’s occasionally doing more to her hair than just washing it (i.e., styling it and putting product in it), putting on makeup, and “real clothes.”

For one of my friends, it’s always having clean laundry.

For another, it’s making tea in an actual teapot. She usually has just under two cups of tea in the morning so she started making tea in a teapot and we are in California; this is not necessarily typical American behavior.

For a few friends, it’s tending to their vegetable gardens and house plants.

For me, it’s baking cookies from scratch and then storing them IN A FUCKING COOKIE JAR! IN MY ACTUAL COOKIE JAR! LOOK AT IT!

<image is of a very large ceramic cookie jar shaped like a pineapple>

Everything else feels like a dumpster fire right now, but everyone I talked to above mentioned these things as “the thing” that makes them feel like, okay, everything is trash, but I can control this thing. This thing that makes us feel grounded and present.

I started thinking about all our “things” as a group and tried to figure out what they have in common. They all involve multiple steps, or, to put it slightly differently, a bit of ritual. Baking cookies has the recipe, the taking out the butter to soften at room temperature, the careful measuring of ingredients. Making tea. Doing laundry. Putting on makeup. Making sure your plants are watered correctly and on schedule. Steps and rituals.

In a way, they remind me of the anxiety countdown tool, when, if you are having a bout of anxiety, you try to find and focus on:

  • 5 things you can see

  • 4 things you can touch

  • 3 things you can hear

  • 2 things you can smell

  • 1 thing you can taste

It’s not lost on me that many people who, in the before times, were not diagnosed with mental illness are now finding use in tools that some of us have been using for years.

The other thing that all these rituals have is that there’s something to show at the end of it. We’ve created or grown food. We’ve done our hair. We’ve made tea to help get through the morning.

And I think that’s the key to what has kept me, at least, from melting down: the ability to create. There is A LOT being torn down, burned down, and thrown away right now both literally and figuratively. And I’m not sad about it. Shit needs to GO.

But maybe it’s time to think about what we’re bringing forward. What are we filling this space with, both in the world and in our lives? What are we making that is new? I have no answers to these big questions. I just know that rituals and small creations are what are giving me, some loved ones, and maybe you(?) a sense of stability and hope right now. And right now, that is enough.

I don’t really know how to end this today, so here’s my friend’s cat again:

That’s it for this week! If you enjoy this newsletter, feel free to subscribe, forward it to a friend, and/or give me a tip! Super Supporters get a handwritten thank you card!

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July 5, 2020
<image is of three bright blue envelopes with rainbow flaps and a shiny cloud sticker>

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