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  • Nukhet Hendricks

Desperately Seeking Rituals II


It has been a week since I put that candle on the kitchen counter by the coffee machine. The intention was to light it first thing in the morning this past week when I wake up; to help me ease back into some sort of ritual. I need something to ground me, a "constant" in my life that I can count on because everything feels so uncertain. A lot of things I took for granted are no longer there.


I lit the candle every morning. Watched the flame flicker as I set an intention for the day. Seven days, five minutes each day, and I am trying to be okay with doing what I could do even if it is five minutes a day.


Saturday, I woke up with a desperate need to be in the swimming pool. We have a big swimming pool in the courtyard of the condo complex I am living right now. I didn't even take the time to have a cup of coffee because I was afraid if I sit down to drink it, I will never get up to go down. That's is one of the symptoms of burn-out. It takes an extraordinary amount of energy to do anything out of my simple routine, so I don't do it. I do and have been doing just what can be done and needs to be done. But you wouldn't know that about me by looking at me or spending time with me.


The water felt absolutely fantastic. It was so quiet. I let my body simply float in the water, weightless, and free. I swam back and forth; back and forth until she showed up with her husband and a young man she knows. Her husband started swimming laps quietly on the other side of the pool, she began to walk in the water with the young man - that's what they do around here, they walk back and forth in the water – and she started to talk, and talk, and talk as if her life depended on it. It was as if she was afraid that if she stopped talking for one second, she would never be able to speak again. I tried, I really tried to ignore her and keep swimming.


The longer I "shelter in place" alone, the harder the talking becomes. I find it is taxing on my system. It feels like an imposition. Being quiet now feels like the natural state of being. I couldn't take her talking anymore, and I left. But just the mere fact that I made it to the pool was short of a miracle. I decided to allow myself to be okay with that, too.

Later during the day, I kept thinking about the woman in the pool. I realized I was not only unfair but unkind in my thoughts towards her. Maybe that's her ritual, desperately seeking connection other than her husband, and she needs to hear her own voice. And then I wondered if I would have felt differently if I was not still nursing the tender wounds of my burnt-out soul.


I think we are all desperately seeking rituals in our own unique way. Some of us already have them. Some of us are finding comfort in doing things the way we did before the world got quiet, and some of us want nothing to do with the old normal and are seeking new anchors. In seeking new rituals, I am realizing more and more that living with complete abandon and truly being present are not for the faint-hearted.

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