Today it was the kitties’ turn. I’m feeling flu-ish, so I skipped the rec center and slept in. Because I went to bed at 9 o’clock, this meant that I still woke up by about 6:45. David took the opportunity to skip, too, but had gotten up at 5:30 anyway, to soak in the bathtub. When I stirred, deciding I wouldn’t sleep anymore, however much I’d prefer to stay in my warm, dark den, both kitties trilled delighted meows at me and came running in to leap on the bed.
You’d think I’d risen from the dead.
I dragged myself into the kitchen and they bolted for their food dishes — which had still some dry food in them, mind you — portraying desperate starvation the way only a cat can. I mentioned it when I visited David taking his bath, to say good morning. Oh yes, he said, both cats had been coming in to stare at him accusingly. I wondered why, since they normally don’t get fed until about this time anyway, when we get back from working out.
It’s the wrong pattern of activity, he said; a disruption of their routine.
If you read yesterday’s post, you know this comment hit home for me. The creative gurus are all about ritual and routine. Write every day. Write at the same time every day. Play the same music while you write. All meant to coax the subconscious into performing, like a well-trained pet. They compare the subconscious to an animal. Our unthinking animal side.
What happens when it falls apart? When I can’t access my current novel in progress because I haven’t yet reinstalled Word. When I can’t listen to my writing playlist because I haven’t reinstalled Sonic Stage. When the getting up and getting breakfast isn’t timed the usual way and the yummy canned food doesn’t fall in the bowl as expected. Frantic behavior, is what.
I have a friend whose mother every morning goes for a walk and then has her nonfat, sugar-free latte. I know about this because this woman’s husband, my friend’s stepfather, called my friend for advice. Apparently if she for some reason is made to miss her walk and latte, she becomes nearly hysterical. He wondered how to deal with it. And maybe was asking a slightly deeper question: is she a little crazy?
Maybe insanity isn’t just doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Maybe it’s becoming paralyzed if you can’t do the same thing over and over. Ritual may feed the animal in us, but the higher being in us must remain flexible. Overcome and move on. Whether it’s a computer malfunction, sickness, losing a job, losing everything — the trick is being able to rise above the ritual and cope anyway.
In the end, ritual is a luxury.