At the core of most belief systems are a main set of rituals or acts that the group performs either together or on their own as part of their celebration of faith. Though not a religious act, I have a few rituals that I enjoy and that sometimes stand in the way of moving forward or being productive.
Cleaning My Room
Most mothers would love to hear this... unfortunately my mother knows the real source of this one. I can't work in my room if it is dirty. Not even dirty in the sense of dust or dirt, but rather the clutter and chaos of being a college male.
I don't pretend to understand it really. Perhaps it's something about the energy in the room but I find myself constantly cleaning up the room - putting things away, doing laundry, vacuuming, making the bed, etc. whenever I need to work here - generally on the weekends.
So the next time you need to buckle down and do some work... especially if you need to procrastinate a little longer... consider cleaning your room and doing your laundry! It's good for at least a couple hours of time killing and the OCD voices in your head will be satisfied.
Shocking, I know! This might be a hold-over from the military academy thing (as most of these are...) but it's a really productive thing... right? In all seriousness, there is something about making my dress clothes look THAT much better than they were when I took them out of the drier. Sure, they're all wrinkle resistant dress shirts these days but that's nothing a little light starch and a good hot iron can't make look 100x better.
One late night of doing laundry sophomore or junior year in South Campus, a girl came up to me and complimented me on my folding skills as I was putting creases into my t-shirts as I folded them on the tables while they were still warm. She worked at Banana Republic and was trying to get me to come work for them to fold stuff... I thought not. BUT! It did remind me that I take great pride in stuff like that. At USAFA I had a near perfect record for my military inspections - one of the highest in my flight.
These days, though I do iron more dress clothes than I ever did before, the most relaxing moments are when I go through and heavy starch my CAP uniforms. There are days when the BDU's (The camo uniforms) can stand up on their own when I'm done. Razor sharp arm creases, stiff front and back panels - so good.
Polishing Shoes and Boots
How ironic is it that this is THE most zen ritual that I have? It all started in high school when Civil Air Patrol met every Thursday night and sometimes on the weekends. In the beginning, I would spend hours trying to get any sort of shine out of my boots but over the years I picked up tricks that got my shoes looking like glass. Heading to USAFA, I was able to share this with my fellow classmates.
We would bond over late night polish parties. These polish parties were some of the few times the upperclassmen would leave us alone - maybe that's where the big tie comes from. These days, I don't have anyone else to shine shoes and boots with so it is a solitary thing that I do to refocus and clear my mind. It's amazing how making tiny little circles with handkerchiefs and Kiwi polish can flush everything bad out of your head.
These are the rituals that bring me back to center, that relax me, that make me concentrate when I can't normally focus. What sorts of things do you do to bring you back to center when everything else seems to be going crazy?