Ever boulder-hop when you were a kid? In a big river? You have to keep crossing back and forth. Every time you jump, you wonder if you will make it, or miss it and get carried downstream. Worse is to jump, think you’ve landed safely, yet almost immediately find yourself helplessly sliding down some hidden slime covered patch while trying to find another rock to grab to save yourself?
I am a force of nature, full of light and life.
I am a she-devil, spreading hurt and confusion.
Will I find just a measure of rest in the night?
And might I prevail, fending off illusion?
It goes like this.
I park my car on the street across the driveway. I check my look in the rear view mirror because appearances matter. As I walk around to the passenger side to gather up the heavy satchel, the purse, the stainless steel water bottle, I pause to look down a few blocks to the ocean where I can see the water line of the shelf out some distance from the beach. Often it is grey from high fog.
The wrought iron gate on the house has an old label, “Please push both buttons.” I wait for the buzz which lets me press the bars open, and hear the echo in the turret as the second floor door is opened. Careful to quietly close the gate, I walk down the foyer and climb up the winding stairs where I can hear another singer’s lesson in progress.
I dump my burdens on the floor, close the door, and head into the kitchen to select a mug and a tea bag. I imagine most of us have a favorite. The cups are souvenirs from productions or festivals. Of course, I favor one or two from places I’ve been. Peppermint. Always. A turn of the knob on the stove and I wait for the kettle to rumble.
And I listen to the lesson or coaching in progress as I wait with my tea, seated out of view on the loveseat behind the kitchen wall. Those ten minutes are interesting and often instructive. I pay attention.
This particular ritual plays out weekly, but sometimes more or less frequently, depending on my needs. I am bound to all kinds of ritual. The predictability sets up routine which in turn summons my attention, and inspires me to focus on the task at hand. Ritual may help us create meaning or intention. Rituals strengthen connection between us.
In music, as with most big brain activities, repetition and ritual are daily bread.