Last week we spent some time in Long Island at the beach. We were taking a brief break from THE MOVE (see any number of my posts this summer) to regain our lost sanity. For those caring – yes, it did work. Emptying an American household is truly overwhelming. We boomers have all said at least once (or three thousand times) how “money is tight right now” – but we all seem to have more or less a zillion dollars of possessions – but I digress.
Meanwhile back at the beach, I walked the seaside several times – both alone and with friends and thought about this topsy turvy summer of change. The typical and untypical birds were there – including of course Mr. Seagull – that constant of beach life. I admit I never see a seagull without also remembering Jonathan Livingston Seagull – a story, published in 1970 – an early book on love, forgiveness and positive psychology. Many boomers besides me read and connected with that book – another influence on our thinking already significantly shifted left by the 1960s.
Last week the beach was filled with little short adorable beach birds that were delightful to watch as they scurried here and there going about their bird business. And of course there was the breeze that is unlike any other feeling against one’s skin. It brought me peace. The walking, the letting go of stress, the memories of hundreds of earlier walks just like this one, but basking in just this new one and the gifts it was giving me.
Post our beach time we headed to NYC to stay on the upper east side due to our generous friends who were away and suggested we use their space. I grew up in New York. In the 1950s suburbs I remember “trips to the city” when we would dress up and go to Schrafft’s on Fifth Avenue. The memory of such times is getting vaguer and mixed up with other similar memories. I often wonder now if something is a real memory or something I saw in a movie.
Each day I walked Park Avenue for dozens of blocks – just ambling a bit. Ambling in NYC is not possible except in August when the city is “empty” as us “natives” say – meaning you can get into a restaurant and not be bowled over by thousands walking the streets. I realized that this NYC walking was another of my rituals. Whenever I was facing issues – while at 25, 35, 45, 55 or now, I walked the streets of NYC and looked at crazy expensive stores, Central Park, old and new buildings and amazing townhouses. It is the place I think about decisions for the next 5 years – my ritual meditation on life – very little of which is spent in NYC anymore.
On Sunday while at church, I prayed for all those I love – especially for a dear friend who just underwent a stem cell transplant that truly is a gift of life. Another ritual I practice: showing up at “odd” churches and reminding myself of all that is so much bigger, and more beautiful/important than my particular life and its petty concerns. There were only 10 or so people in this charming 1872 church – guess the ritual of praying in random churches is becoming a great deal less common. That made me a little sad, but reminded me why I need to keep at it. My rituals, my places of comfort that anchor me to the past, and help me navigate the future are important. No matter where I am, I need to remember to get to the beach, NYC and an old church.
The sermon at church was about not relying on rituals – not being a hypocrite but living and experiencing things for their essence – love and connection. Couldn’t agree more with the priest, but still need to hold to some of my own EOS rituals. Sometimes going back into a place/space of comfort becomes the exact thing that allows me to pivot back to life in the now. My heart is healed, my thoughts are clear, and I go back to a life more online than I would like, but then “the online world” too is deepened and expanded by my rituals.
Don’t forget your rituals fabulous sisters. Hopefully they do not include buying stuff – as noted at the start – enough already with the stuff.