This blog is mostly in response to one my husband Daren wrote a few weeks back https://darenamd.wordpress.com/2016/07/23/on-the-value-of-rituals/
We did chat that day in the coffee shop, and I’ve been thinking about this for a few weeks now. One of the reasons rituals are so awesome is because it traces something back to it’s roots and honors something in it’s entirety. Well, there is nothing alone in its entirety. Anyone who is Facebook friends with me (IF they paid any attention to my page) would know that for the past 7+ years the main quote sitting on my profile is: When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe. – John Muir
I love that quote. I’ve used it in many conversations and presentations in a variety of formats. We can trace everything almost continuously including ourselves back to the stars. We and everything around us is made of star stuff (thank you kindly Carl Sagan for coining that term in my head forever). If we do actually think about this & how we are all nothing but star stuff; it’s easy to see nothing at all or just outright chaos. But if we ignore everything else and only focus on one piece of the universal pie we miss understanding and appreciating the beauty of the tie in. And feel very much alone.
Our human brains need to draw natural lines to understand something so it’s not all chaos or nothing at all. We also need to stop those lines in a place that we as humans can understand something and make sense of it. What I would argue is happening in the world today is that those lines we draw around something to make sense of it are becoming smaller and smaller.
Take for instance a shoemaker 150 years ago. He had a little shop in the heart of a town. People who lived in that town acquired their shoes there. The shoemaker knew his customers well. Everyone had a role in the town’s functioning and everyone supported everyone else to keep that town running through trade, bartering or monetary exchange. They were all they had and likely felt a sense of community and oneness. Mr. Shoemaker made the shoes from start to finish. He knew where the material came from, how they were put together. He literally created every stitch and hammered every sole. When he walked through town and saw others, he saw his creations on their feet. He felt connected to the product he made and the people who benefited from it. He appreciated the art of his work, which helped him to inherently understand and appreciate the products and services of his fellow townsfolk. Making shoes was a ritual and the universal lines were drawn around the whole shoe and the tie into the community and other humans.
At some point in history, machines and the assembly line were developed and broke up shoe making and nearly every other previous manual whole process that we could as humans possibly get our hands on. The universal lines broke down even smaller. Instead of making shoes; one stood on a line and mechanically made just a sole, or hammered in the same piece of stinking shoe over and over. The pride and ritual of the shoe in it’s entirely was lost. It became harder to connect with the final product. Supply chains were built up and one would no longer see the product they created on the feet of habitants of their town. In fact today, no one really knows any longer where things were created or how they were put together. People started working outside of their towns and traveling alone to jobs on long commutes to do things they don’t feel a part of. While our world is becoming more and more connected, humans are becoming more and more disjointed from the origin of their being; and their own worlds are becoming smaller and smaller.
I love Daren’s example of the record player. It was a ritual to play a song or album. The anticipation of hearing a song would build up as you went through the process of getting all set up. Manually making that happen while we wished it were faster felt very satisfying. Now that I have every song I have ever heard or could want to hear in my life at my fingertips, I just don’t enjoy music like I used to. Daren’s example of the coffee making process is simply beautiful. Making a cup of coffee in the morning was a means to true enjoyment. Manual effort was put in. The waiting made it all the more special. Do we really enjoy the k-cup, drive through, or 7/11 versions of coffee in disposable containers as much? As we gulp them down without thought? …several times a day for most.
Our on the go life style has started to suck the pleasure out of life. We aren’t connected to the things we do, the food we put into our body, or the people we run into during the day. We see ourselves as separate, and not part of the whole. Unless you own your own business, most of us who work have little to no connection to the mission of our jobs. We feel like a part in a machine with no connection to the outcome or even our own humanness. I march through the VA facility where I work and see the patients hobbling down the main corridor as road blocks to the next place I’m heading and already late to. Every so often when the bathroom on my floor is being cleaned and I need to walk down to the floor below, I see patients in the waiting room and checking in. It’s only then I remember that I even work in a hospital. That is sad and a symptom of something gone terribly, terribly wrong.
I wasn’t around back in the shoemaker days, but based on my experience with record players (and cassettes and CDs), and when my mom ground the beans at the end of the line at A&P and then percolated the coffee; I much more enjoyed the older, more manual versions of these and many, many other products and services. We don’t have time to do things in a way that are truly enjoyable any longer. How uncool is that? Why are we trying to do more and more faster and faster? It necessitates a quicker, faster, and smaller means to an end. It’s harder to appreciate the whole when you and everything you take part of is such a small cog in a larger wheel. What’s the rush? What are we accomplishing? Are we happier as a human race? I’m not. Am I alone in this feeling? Even if I am, I want to step out & slow down. I want to know the bigger whole. I’m a bit tired of the disjointed feeling of my being. I miss manual processes and rituals. I want off the treadmill. Anyone care to join me?
If you enjoyed my writing, consider leaving a comment, sharing with others, or following my blog
3 thoughts on “On a Disjointed Life”
Really thought about this piece. “Lawyer read it” examing your thesis and ideas supporting it.
Wrote several pages in a notebook dissecting it.
Brought it I think one step further. Those lines we make to make sense of it. I think rituals extend those lines and lack shorten them but I think that it’s the connectivity (disjointed life) that rituals bring, is the important part and it’s the connectivity that enriches human experience. That’s feeling of belonging and connecting with someone or something and certainly rituals help appreciate the connectivity, other things also help. Meditation for one. An understanding of what’s really important (my never ending value argument) for another. Trying to say it concisely, but those things help us be connected. But yes being a spacely’s sprocket (the jetsons) disconnects you.
I keep rereading this and while uts clear in NY mind I am not so sure it’s clear here
Thanks fratello! Mostly clear. One of these things I’d love to sit and chat with you about sometime. Let’s set that date for help in the beach house soon!
It never ceases to amaze me how we can connect with or relate to how someone else is thinking and not even know it. Just yesterday I was thinking some of these same things. Even though I am not a fan of technology and find it overwhelming had it not been for blogging I never would’ve read what was written here. The shoe has played a huge part of the last two years of my life. I walked into Crossfit with a basic pair of beat up running shoes. It was the only pair of sneakers I owned. I noticed that everyone around me was wearing Reeboks. Why? The coaches continually told me that I needed a flatter sneaker that is lower to the ground so that my feet won’t turn in and I can lift the weight over my head. I thought about it but went and bought a Nike running shoe anyway because they felt so comfortable and supportive. My running improved instantaneously. I was so happy with these shoes however they did not help for stability in my lifting. A year and a half later I bought my first pair of Reebok “nanos.” Cross Fitter’s all over the world wear these sneakers and now I owned them. I stopped by my aunts house one day and she told me to sit down because she had taped a special on 60 minutes. As I sat and watched I met the man who invented Crossfit. I learned about mechanics and movements of Crossfits and the benefits to our bodies. This man is a genius. There are Crossfits all over the world and can fly at any time in his private plane and show up at any one of boxes. Yes I said box. We aren’t a gym we work out in a wear house with no air conditioning. This man is nuts and I really like that about him. He had a dream and I am honored to one of the seven percent of people on our planet that do Olympic lifting. There is just one problem with his dream. Reebok sponsors Crossfit. On television he told the viewers that Reebok ruined Crossfit and that he hopes that some day Crossfit will get away from them. I now own the ultimate Crossfit shoe the Reebok Nano. I was so happy. The nano did what it said it would do. Over the winter I used them inside. We did not run we rowed. They felt good. Springtime came and they still felt good. By early summer I noticed that my knees and feet were hurting. I lost the speed in my running. The Nanos weren’t meant for running. The shoe laces got frayed from rope climbing and the rubber has scuffs from the black mat I pound my feet on. I thought back to the television show and thought to myself why would a billionaire who invented Crossfit let Reebok be the face of Crossfit? Did he not know that anything that that a company can get their hands on to make money will be done? If one famous athlete is wearing them or everyone in your box is wearing them they will sell like hot cakes. Regardless if they are quality or not. What we do is hard and demanding on your body . Why wouldn’t he be a part of the invention of a shoe that stands for what Crossfit is all about? Dedication, hard work, pain, victory, self esteem, achievement, working towards attainable goals and most importantly putting in the time to build your moves piece by peice. That is mind boggling. You can buy these shoes all over the place with the click of a button they come right to your door. The only way I learned about them was by asking others and reading internet reviews about the shoe. This year the latest rage in our box is the Nike Metcon 2. As I looked around for the past few months there are a very select few that still wear the Nano. The Metcon is the latest rage just a different company. The reviews of this shoe are horrible. No support and poor quality yet they are flying off the shelves. Well not really shelves but wear houses. I decided that my next shoe would be a better one so I researched the sneaker called the Nobull. I know two people who have them and even got a chance to try them on and jump around a bit. These shoes are made of super fabric guard plates that are water, abrasion and dirt resistant. I saved enough money and went on the web. As I was ordering the shoe I realized that it was tax free week? I thought to myself why wasn’t the discount coming out? I know I thought I will call them and ask. To my surprise this company only had an email site that someone would reply to my inquiry within 72 hours. Not even a phone number. I also learned that they are a newer company and that many of their shoes are out of stock due to high demand. I didn’t want to wait 72 hours I wanted to talk to someone. Back in the day you went to your local shoe store. Ours was Buster Brown a quality made shoe for children. Mr. Shoeman would come out and measure your feet and show you exactly what shoes were good for your foot type. They were expensive high quality shoes and made well. Most importantly Mr. Shoeman would spend a lot of time with you and you could ask any question you wanted. I went to catholic school and their was only one shoe for dressing up in the uniform and one pair of sneakers for gym class and that was it. My feet pronate. How do I know that these sneakers are going to work? Talking to someone within the company was not even an option offered. I ordered these shoes anyway and we will see how it goes. Is this company just the latest fad for Crossfitters? Do the individuals themselves who sell this shoe even Crossfit? Recently I purchased a product from Lurong to help with concentration. The salesman came to our gym and worked out with us and told me all about the product. With the click of the button I charged it on my credit card. Two weeks later for the tune of $45.00 I received more in the mail. How could that be? That isn’t what I signed up for. I called and the woman who answered the phone and assisted me assured me that she would stop this and that I would get my account credited but I would have to pay for the shipping to send it back which I did. The same thing happened next month. I called again. She fixed it this time but I had questions about the product. To my surprise she had know knowledge of the ingredients in the product and how it affected the body. Here’s a woman who assists customers all day long and doesn’t know squat about the product. Long gone are the days of quality and knowledge. We live in a face paced society where the motto is the faster and cheaper the better. What about quality? There is something to be said about small businesses who provide quality and customer service but where are they? A lot of these places exist in tourist towns. On vacation you can meet people all over the world who offer their talents and quality products. I find those are the best places to shop. Some of them even have websites that you can order from when you get home if you like the products. None of these exist where I live. I rush through the grocery store with my head phones on get in line. Once it’s my turn to greet the cashier I do so and make a point to talk to them about small things like the weather and ask them what time they get off of their shift? We are people not machines that function at the click of a button. I work all week and sit down next to people who have no idea how what we don’t do has an effect on patient care. We are here to serve our veterans. I ride in a commuter van and sit in traffic on route 66 to get down to my Crossfit box 4 or fives times a week because it is the only thing that keeps me sane and connected with like minded people who care about strengthening their bodies, coming out of their comfort zones and working hard. We live it, eat it, sleep it, breathe it and get up every day just for that. I spend an hour afterwards stretching and talking to people because it’s my time. Once I walk out that door the rat race begins all over again. We don’t make the time to sit and talk with anyone. If it’s not a text conversation it’s facebook or nothing. When think of the record player I think of the record skipping over and over and over again. That is pretty much how I feel about life. I am extremely blessed that someone did invent Pandora and that music is at my finger tips. My other time I call my time is music. I spend hours with my head phones on. At first there were two sets of ear buds that wore out so I switched to Bose head phones. I had purchased them for flying to drown out the noise. As soon as the music comes through them it’s quality and quality time spent in my dreams. While I am listening to Bach I dream of paddle boarding slowly on an lake with my dog. As I listen to Motley Crue “girls, girls, girls” before Crossfit I get pumped. Even though the lyics mean women and strippers to me it’s women wearing chalk and sweat in front of men who view women as objects. All of us are lined up throwing down weight. In my mind I only have one thing to say. “take your trashy lingerie, lipstick and bleached haired bimbos because a real woman wears sweat and chalk.” She also wears tears, rips and scars from the blood sweat and tears she has earned giving it her all. Suck on that! We as a world are disjointed. I am disconnected because I have to be. I make my coffee every night with the timer set. I make it because If I go to Dunkin Donuts I have to wait in line with all the others to be served something from an assembly line. It doesn’t even taste the same each time but mine does. I don’t like to eat out a lot anymore because I enjoy my own food and cannot stand sitting in a restaurant and wasting time. Each place has a theme and the food is loaded with calories. Which place is the latest and greatest? I am not comfortable in crowded places that have no windows. I feel like I can’t breathe. The VA hospital is an ugly place. I work above the wear house and have my window open even when the air is on. People often ask me how I can stand all that noise? I love it. Because in my mind it sounds like the block island ferry unloading the people and groceries it gets from the main land. As soon as I hear that I go to my favorite place in the whole world. We choose to live in chaos and theme park life styles but my mind is filled with imaginative places. You see there no one can disturb me. I own it for as long as I want. I asked my husband the other day if he thought that Crossfit was just another exercise fad. Our conclusion was no. It is the toughest thing in the entire world to do besides training for the Olympics. Atleast that’s what I think. I don’t know much about much and I am a simple person but if I was the owner of Crossfit I would make a point to visit each and every Crossfit in the world. Pop in and surprise the owners or work out. How does he know that people aren’t just muscle heads taking supplements and throwing weight around like meat heads? Do they coaches actually stop the athletes if their form isn’t proper? Are these so called “boxes” just about getting into competitions? Are they investing time in their members? Do they know or notice if someone hasn’t been around for a while or if someone is looking sad? Why are they sad? Did something defeat them in their minds? How does he know that one defeat for someone could mean walking out of that box and quitting is their answer. I enjoy quality time with myself but am thankful and proud for the few people in my life that take the time to listen and get to know me. Slow down people and look around. Their is beauty all over in the tiniest little things. We don’t have to travel to find out or keep up with the latest and greatest. Open your eyes to sit what’s right in front of you and enjoy it. Life is short. Live it and enjoy it to it’s full potential.