Most of us, no matter how spontaneous and crazy we’d like to think ourselves, are creatures of habit. We all have rituals and routines on varying levels of complexity and compulsivity. For instance I compulsively clean my ears after every shower, it makes me mental if I can’t. Some people refuse to leave the house without chap stick or lip gloss. Still others take the identical path to work everyday, catching the same train, stopping at the same Starbucks and ordering the same drink before landing in the same chair and opening the same programs.
For the most part these are harmless idiosyncrasies that we keep close to ourselves. Small things that make our days feel more stable and grounded in a world that can often feel like it’s in upheaval. While I’m not a fan of the phrase itself, there is some truth to the cliche “it’s the small things.”
I recently attended the Sikh Festival in Madison Square Park. The festival was super high energy and the park was jam packed with men and women in traditional Sikh garb. As I struggled to walk through the narrow paths of the park, the last thing I expected to find in a sea of saris was a white dude in a lawn chair soaking up the sun. But there he was, in all his bronzed glory, amongst the families eating curry, nan and other delicious Indian food.
This made me wonder, was this part of some ritual he has that is not to be broken? If it is, what would have to happen for him to break this ritual aside from the sun not shining? A death in the family? I understand that its nice to have things to look forward to and have things planned out, but at what point does it go too far? Is it better in his head, more comforting or gratifying, to stick to his park and ritual no matter what, even when it is incredibly difficult or inconvenient, than to just pick another location? Seems kind of stifling at that point, don’t you think?
Original photo by Joey Camire.