Opinion: Daily rituals

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There are some things we do once in a while. We eat ice cream. We take long naps. Each is good, even great, in its own way. They punctuate our lives with small respites of joy. They remind us that life is firmly ours to control – as much as we try to convince ourselves that we have precious little over which we can fully direct. Yet, there are other things, maybe even more things, that are a committed part of our daily ritual. 

We do them at the same time, in the same way, and with the same approach each and every day, for decades at a time. We brush our teeth. We tie our shoes. We look one last time in the mirror before turning out the light and heading out the door. What we expect to see is unknown, even to ourselves, but we must do it. Without the simple action, the ritual would collapse. It is the step we take, every day, before departing our homes. Failure to complete the task could be disastrous – well, maybe not, but why risk it?

So, of these many quotidian sacraments, which are worth preserving? Of the thoughtless and habitual actions moving us from one morning to the next, are we squandering our effort on those of little consequence? Is it time to review our ceremony and consciously decide which adds value and which to dump? Sure, most dentists agree that the intentional hygienic process of cleaning one’s teeth should stay on the list. But, as we review our own peculiarities, is it less clear as to the import of our other lesser daily actions? If we spend a minute a day for decades, or perhaps a lifetime, can we feel good about the market’s return on our investment?   

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