Ok, a friend loaned me the book, The Creative Habit by dancer and choreographer Twyla Tharp. Chapter 2 has me thinking. It starts out:
I begin each day of my life with a ritual: I wake up at 5:30 a.m., put on my workout clothes, my leg warmers, my sweatshirts, and my hat. I walk outside my Manhattan home, hail a taxi, and tell the driver to take me to the Pumping Iron gym at 91st Street and First Avenue, where I work out for two hours. The ritual is not the stretching and weight training I put my body through each morning at the gym; the ritual is the cab. The moment I tell the driver where to go I have completed the ritual.
She shared all kinds of ritual examples from other people, and I started wondering about mine. Do I have a ritual? I realized just now while writing this very last sentence that I do have one. I’m not sure whether I want to laugh or cry at mine, but this is it:
When I return home to work after shuttling each child to the proper morning destination, I clear the breakfast mess from the table, sweep about a cupful of cereal off the floor, and make myself a cup of coffee. Once I sit down to my computer at the clean table without a single Cheerio sticking to either foot – armed with that cup of coffee – I know I’m ready.
When I work late, my nighttime ritual is similar except I’m picking up dirty clothes and toys and papers and the drink is either tea with a dash of honey or, better yet, a glass of wine.
Tharp wrote, “All preferred working states, no matter how eccentric, have one thing in common: When you enter them, they impel you to get started.”