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Ritual and Routine

August 14, 2013 29 comments

Ritual and routine. Watchwords for my life.

When I say “ritual” I’m talking about the personal things we do, rather than anything connected to religion. Little things like knocking on wood before performing a certain task, maybe. Things that don’t really mean anything, but make us feel better.

Routine – the things we do every day, the things we have to do, like checking all the windows are closed before we go to work.

I love my routine. I do the same things every workday morning, in the same order. Get out of bed, make lunch, shave, shower, brush teeth. That’s all fine. Next I check the kitchen plugs are off, check the water to the washing machine is off, check the washing machine and microwave are unplugged, check the side window’s closed, check the amplifier is off at the wall, check the amplifier base unit is off at the wall, check the bathroom fan master switch is off and leave the house.

There’s more, but you get the idea.

Here’s the kicker – I already know most of the stuff is fine. I use the washing machine on a Monday evening. It can’t magically plug itself back in, but I need to check every morning. If I don’t check I feel uneasy. That’s when routine becomes ritual. It serves no useful purpose but I need to do it to make myself feel better. If I do something out of order it feels very wrong.

Then there’s the stuff which my brain expects to happen. The other day I walked into a door at work. I flung my right arm at the door handle and missed. I tried with my left hand and missed. However, my brain expected the door to be open by now, so my legs just kept on going. Ouch!

Here’s what I imagine was going on in my head at the time, starting in the “Department for Hands and Arms”.

Brain Error

Once I’ve locked a door, I check it’s locked – that’s good common sense. If I wait around in the proximity of the door for more than a few seconds I have to check it again. That’s just mad! I know it’s locked.

Does anyone else have a routine which has morphed into a ritual?