It’s the last day of summer, a time when once, all over the country, people would gather to recognise the change in the seasons and take part in rituals of one kind or another. Ritual is part of what makes us what we are and most of us, even if we don’t recognise it, take part in them.
I am without doubt a creature of habit, tied to my daily routines and bound by the small self-generated rituals that have become a necessity for my existence. I get up at pretty much the same time each day even though I don’t need to, my bathroom routine (which I won’t detail) seldom varies. My early morning is a pattern not quite set in stone - checking mails before coffee, then looking at Facebook and a blog or two before tackling the watering and the washing up. After that I make my lunchtime sandwich, and so my day progresses without radical deviation from my routine.
Strangely though, I am not a lover of formal rituals. I see them as binding habits implanted in us by outside influences in order to keep us quiet when really we want to break out and scream ''No more''. Religion, education, organisations of any kind rely on ritual to keep us within their accepted boundaries and then we go on to invent our own rituals which locks us tightly into a whole range of self imposed habit. Weddings and Christenings leave me cold with dismay, and even Bonfire night has lost its appeal now that I’ve grown older. Easter never was on my list, and a more ridiculous set of rituals I can’t imagine.
Yes, ritual, ultimately, is for the mindless although it seems to be the chosen behaviour of the sane.
Madmen on the other hand, true madmen (I’m not thinking OCD type behaviours) hardly ever adhere to ritual. Their lives are a series of random and unexpected events that rarely form patterns or are even repeated. Of course you might argue that serial murderers who follow the same pattern for each kill are mad. But are they if they can control and repeat a sequence of events time and time again? That seems to be the act of a sane person to me.
Maybe ritual is an attempt to control the madness, a magic spell to stop us from simply living an animalistic life driven by needs and temperature and breeding patterns. Even animals have rituals they must follow at times though. Maybe at a cellular level we are hot-wired with ritual and only those without it are truly free?