Muddy Waters Crossroads coffee. I drink it black (like my soul). No milk. No cream. No sugar. Black.
Rituals are, for the most part, comforts. They center you to your particular brand of universe. Things like ritual slayings serve dual purposes: they reinforce the slayers' belief system; they terrorize the public. Rituals such as going out and singing Christmas carols summon forth a season a memories. And some rituals, like the morning drinking of coffee, usher in a day.
Last night, after multiple conversations with multiple people (and I thoroughly apologize to the one I told the horrible condom story to), I was left in good spirits but with my thoughts spinning. My head was throbbing (not in a good way), as it has been for days. I decided to check my e-mail earlier in the evening and found a Facebook message from someone I never thought I'd hear from again. It kind of threw me for a loop. Brought forth a lot of bad dreams. Kept me awake, reading Conan the Usurper until I could no longer close my eyes. When sleep came, it was under constant attack by dreams that seemed almost fever-induced.
I'm not a person who puts much stock in things like tradition, though I have a few with my daughter. Tradition is sometimes traditionally bad. Ritual, however, is more nebulous. It can be good or evil. Ritual is the intellect while tradition is the ego.
When I woke up for the third time, I went into ritual mode. Lay stark still. Eyes focused one place in the dark. Regulate the breathing. Open all the senses. Take in every noise, every scent, feel ever vibration. Become completely aware by becoming the darkness that surrounds me. It is a form of meditation, and it is a ritual I rarely use because it can work opposite of its intended purpose. Here I wanted to drift to sleep. Sometimes there is so much stimuli that sleep just isn't possible.
To turn off my mind takes careful, formulated steps. When I wake up, my mind is going at a thousand miles an hour. All sorts of thoughts invade. To start the ritual of shutting down I must lay flat, arms at my side or crossed over my chest. I cannot cough or sneeze. I must control my breathing. I must stop any thoughts that creep in. Eventually this ritual transforms an alert mind into a state that is hard to describe. That space in the dark that I focus on is not longer there. I cannot tell if I am awake or asleep. The level of darkness that surrounds me is level. Eventually I drift off but am still hyper aware.
I first did this in my teen years. It's how I learned to wake myself without the aid of an alarm clock. (I can actually wake myself up on a predetermined minute.) Normally when I sleep I am in a state where the slightest out of place sound, scent or vibration instantly awakens me. I can tell what is going on around me. With this ritual I sometimes partake in (I do it rarely as to not abuse it), I not only become aware of what is going on around me, I take it in and become part of it. If you had to visualize it, it would look like a slow melt that eventually becomes part of the darkness.
When taking part of this ritual, the after effects can be disarming. When you eventually come back to "normal" (whatever that may be), you have weird clarity issues. Everything around you is pronounced. Colors are more vibrant (even for me with my color blindness). Every noise louder. Every thought more vivid. And that's where my morning began.
A cup of coffee. Editing an interview with filmmaker M.A. Littler. My mind clicking off thing after another. A ritual that brought enlightenment and a bit of rage. A ritual meant to help me sleep, now keeping me awake.
Some are good. Some are evil. All are meant to create stability in one instance while often causing the opposite effect in some other area at the same time. The ritualized slaying. The sleep ritual. The external versus the internal. As usual, the internal is the hardest with which to deal.
But the ideas it brings are well worth pursuing ... until the next ritual.