Monday, September 24, 2012

How To Do It

Ritual matks the waning of belief and onset of confusion


Lao-Tzu
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Hello Stuart
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As far as I know and believe, my sister never gambled a day in her life, never even bought a lottery ticket I'm sure. She went on a vacation to Las Vegas, Nevada to stay with two friends who were also not gamblers. One day they went on a tour of the casinos, purely as tourists. When she got back east she said that she didn't think the gamblers in those casinos were enjoying themselves because no one was smiling. I asked if she smiled while she was balancing her check book. She said she didn't, and I said it was because she was concentrating on numbers, which is exactly what the gamblers were doing. They smile when they win but the rest of the time they are in deep concentration, particularly the poker players.

One morning I caught a group of children rehearsing a choreographed dance outside near Central Park. They were getting ready to join a festival and the teacher was putting them through the dance tightening things up. He kept saying "smile, smile." They were concentrating so hard on the dance no one was smiling. I've seen majorettes and baton twirlers in high school bands with the same stern look on their faces.

Our lives are filled with rituals. Cooking a meal, especially from a recipe, following the instructions to set up the back yard barbeque, turning on the computer and getting to your home page. All of these things require concentration. We may smile in satisfaction when the job is done but in the meantime "Don't disturb me."

We have rituals that help get along in life, at home, on the job. in school. But there are some rituals that have become dangerous. There are mental, social and religious rituals that we perform because we think we have to. They may have once had a meaning., but we have forgotten what that was. So we keep doing the ritual, taking the steps because it's habitual and because if we don't something will go wrong. We keep thinking in the old way without daring to challenge our thoughts. We perform all the social graces that we think are necessary even when they aren't. We go through the rituals in church without ever investigating or remembering what they are supposed to represent. We go through the rituals without a smile, and if we don't go through them we fear the consequences. . The rituals have now become superstitions. And fear is more important than the original point of the rituals. We have stopped believing in the value of the pattern of behavior and allowed the irrational to take it's place.

I remember learning a job from someone who had done it for 35 years. When I suggested a way of streamlining a part of it she didn't want to hear about it. We did it her way because that's the way it was done. No other reason.

I realized that the job was a ritual for her and to ask her to change the way she did it would cause her to have to think about it, to challenge her ritual, and that would have caused a lot of confusion in her steady uncomplicated life. No wonder she was afraid to try anything new.

Moral: Don't give up your rituals, but challenge them every now and then and if they're not working for you, change and improve them.

DB - Vagabond Journeys
Never give up.

3 comments:

Arlene (AJ) said...

What a great read you have today DB, such a thought, thinking read that would make anyone reading it, stop and give thought to what you wrote about.

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Ken Riches said...

Rituals are a good thing.