Out of the Closet

What’s a blogger to do when hit by the proverbial writer’s block?

This one comes up with myriad excuses:

*Nov 18th gets used up by babysitting my grandson all morning, an afternoon of meetings and then an evening spent socializing with YES magazine folks and the sneak preview of a new movie called: Fixing the Future which aired on PBS last week.

*The 19th disappears into “beach seining,” an adventuresome volunteer research opportunity to identify the marine life near shore and relate that to the health of the waters. I’ll tell you more about that soon. I’m bushed afterward, thoughts won’t cohere, and I gather myself before the TV and drink a glass of wine.

*another day unravels as I sit at my painting table designing four new images. Bushed afterward, must sit before TV, drink wine.

*family gathering and helping out at the local winery and farmers’ market gobble up Sunday the 21st,

*and then, and then, on Monday the 22nd, the winds rise, temperatures plummet, snow falls – 3 to 4 inches fall – on temperate Bainbridge Island and the electricity goes off and stays off. No Comcast, no computer, no phone…. Hardest hit in the region, many in our county still have no power after more than two days. The inconveniences and cold, though, spark my aliveness.

Any reader worth her salt, knows this list, though true, is not the reason I didn’t blog.

What’s really at stake here is my identity!

By revealing my experience with a deeply involving ritual, I’m opening my own closet door. I don’t realize it will feel that way until after I’ve published what I do…ooooops, what now? I wonder how to redeem myself. I suddenly realize there is nothing to redeem. I am fully standing in my shoes and this is a deeply felt consequence of the ritual itself.

You know that expression: “on the one hand this and on the other hand that?”

Well, on one hand I’m an educated, well-read, articulate, friendly,  respected and respectful, elder woman not given to vulgarity or unseemly conduct. On the other hand, I’m a creative wild thing, a capable and risk-taking adventurer, playful and spontaneous, given to flights of vision and mystical communion with the other, both empowered and humbled by her engagement with an animated earth.

I sketch myself to illustrate the wholeness of me. The Two-in-Oneness of me. . .which relates to the myth we acted out in the ritual.

I realize as I am finishing the sketch, that this ME is the gift of the ritual I described to you. I am both/and, completely and utterly and so probably are YOU…We urban folk have simply forgotten our indigenous nature. No longer born into the waiting arms of babbling brook, dappled sunlight and bird song, we struggle with honoring our animal nature, our body’s rhythms and our need to connect with more than a virtual fire, waterfall or forested trail.

True ritual supports rites of passage, effects real change in our psyches and roots us in the mysterious current carrying our lives.

Our modern culture makes little room for such experiences and my New Oxford American Dictionary illustrates that. These are the only definitions of the word ritual and they surprise me with drabness:

*a religious or solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order.
*a series of actions or type of behavior regularly and invariably followed by someone.
*arising from convention or habit.

That’s it! These definitions cleave to religious institutions and institutional pomp and circumstance. In a mild sense, I can relate to the word habit. Habit describes the “mini” ritual I use when embarking on anything specifically creative. I light a candle and ask my ego to remember s/he is not in charge but simply an assistant to the bigger source that wants to come through my particular body/mind/hands. The mystery of combustion and flame makes that awareness real to me.

But habit, prescribed order, solemnity, invariability, convention, none of those descriptors approximate the ritual trickery I just experienced that honed my sense of self and connected me to the living mythos of my own life.

I will write more on this topic. I leave you for this evening, though, wishing to hear from you about the role of ritual in your own life. For instance, how will ritual wind its way into giving thanks tomorrow – tomorrow being the day in the USA called Thanksgiving? Like Christmas, Turkey Day has lost much of its meaning and for many is a ritual of habit with uncertain origins. For instance, I just learn yesterday that “they” may not have even eaten turkey, but rather venison!

Chuckle on…

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About Deborah

Deborah Jane Milton, Ph.D. is an artist, mentor, and eco-psychologist, mother of four and grandmother of eight.
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6 Responses to Out of the Closet

  1. Deborah, what an amazing picture. It paints you beautifully. One of the most beautiful and terrible things about human beings is paradox, our ability to be more than one reality in the same instant, and you have shown it so well. I always think of Schrodinger’s cat, and the far reaches of physics which hypothesise that our very cells are also the stuff of paradox.
    Lovely post 🙂

    Like

    • Deborah says:

      What a satisfying comment, Kate. Thank you. Paradox and ambiguity carry our lives but the dominant cultural mindset here pretends that they don’t. I am always thrilled when physics/science support what our more spiritual nature already knows to be true.

      And I love your post called Waiting, too, and the photograph of frosted leaves. That elegant anticipation…of not sure what…just that knowing that something is “afoot.” Now from whence did that wordphrase come?

      Like

  2. Pseu says:

    I enjoyed reading and can see myself in this!

    Like

    • Deborah says:

      Music to my ears, “Pseu,” that you can see yourself in this story. I love that wee thumbnail photo of your evocative, awe-filled stance – may more and more of us remember that sense of being wonder filled. thanks for writing. I will now check your blog, too!!

      Like

  3. Genevieve says:

    Thank you for sharing this Deborah. I feel inspired to sketch my own blooming of “two in oneness”. Many blessings of warmth and spunky spark, true power and awesome aliveness to you!

    Like

    • Deborah says:

      Thanks, Genevieve…show me that sketch when you do it! And we need more than “two in oneness” probably. A multiverse of oneness, polyvalent selves, or something even more inclusive…I look forward to where this leads.

      Like

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