Ritual is for Everyone

A couple of years ago I left a job that was making me physically sick.  I shall spare you the details, you’re welcome, but suffice to say it was no longer healthy for me to be there.

This was difficult for many reasons, from “I’m leaving so many people I care about” to “I may live under a bridge holy shit what have I done?” but it was necessary.

Leaving a job and people that had been a part of my life for 14 years did leave me with very conflicting emotions that were difficult to ease.  Then I found in my purse the keys to all my cabinets.

And I had a thought.

Now, I’m not religious at all. Whatever gives a person comfort is a beautiful thing, but for me, I don’t believe in any gods or supernatural forces, I don’t use words like “aura” or “chakra,” I don’t use the word “universe” in a non-astronomical sort of way, but…I do know the power of the mind.  The placebo effect is very real, as is the human appreciation for ritual.

One may light an incense and imagine the dissipating smoke takes a particular fear with it, if only for that moment.  Or find peace in meditation and Buddhist practices.  In any case, it comes from within, and it can be very powerful.  So, I decided that the keys needed to go, but in a “cleansing” way.

I decided to throw them in the ocean.

I walked out toward the Golden Gate Bridge and found a lovely spot of roiling water, churning round and round inside a small crevasse.  It’s there in the photo, to the right.  I don’t have a full picture for you on account of my desire to not die.

Release spot

It was loud and dramatic and sort of spooky…huh…I just described myself…anyway, I held the keys in both hands, thought about what they came to represent to me and the pain they brought.  I took a deep breath, filling my lungs with salty mist.  I quickly exhaled and threw the keys and they disappeared into this rocky tomb never to be seen again.

It was as satisfying as I hoped and for a moment, as I stared at the water swirling and gurgling and roaring and crashing on the rock, for just a moment, I felt free.

And that is my actual point.  Whether one is a believer or not, there is a place for ritual in our lives.  There is value to it.  And for those of us with mental illness it can be especially good to have a routine of some kind, something we do for ourselves, something we have control over. Something to help release.

Just for a moment.  Breath.

 

4 thoughts on “Ritual is for Everyone”

  1. I feel like, in the letting go of religion, one should find more strength within. That is, if one’s strength came from a belief that “god saw me through it”, and now realizes god wasn’t there at all… then it was “one” all along. We probably have more strength than we know, if we just trust ourselves. Sure, ritual is a valid tool!

    Liked by 1 person

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