I have been thinking about rituals lately. Not the kinds that induct new members into cults by making them pierce their genitals, more towards the little daily rituals we all do. Whether it’s the way you make your coffee or how you get ready to go to work, our lives are filled with ritualistic moments.
These kinds of everyday rituals are what make up an individual. They exist because of who you are and how you do things and yet the person you are can be a result of these rituals. When I first touched on this thought, I didn’t think I had many rituals but on closer inspection, they surround my entire existence. From the way I make my tea, to the way I dry myself after a shower and even the way I cut onions are all consistent little rituals. I don’t change the way I dry myself, I do it the same way every day. Even the way I blow dry my hair, I tip my head upside down and always start by drying the right side of my hair first. Do I ever think to start on the left side? No, because that’s just not the way I do things.
I consider myself a pretty carefree kind of lass. I definitely wouldn’t say I’m a neat freak or someone who needs to have everything in order. My world is a form of organised chaos, however uncovering of all my rituals has made me realise I am slightly OCD. I like the way I do things, I like the way I wash the dishes. I think its much better than the way my husband washes the dishes. If I was to break my ritual and do it his way, I would probably be sulking the entire time and want to go back and wash them all again, my way.
I was speaking to a friend of mine who drinks her tea black with no sugar whereas I drink mine with milk and one sugar. To her, the way I drink tea is weird and not really tea. I think the way she drinks tea looks like its only half way through being made. She explained it’s about comfort, which is a good way to look at it. If I was to drink her tea and she was to drink mine, neither of us would have our tea cravings satisfied. We wouldn’t feel the comfort of the tea experience and it would most likely make us like our tea even more.
Rituals are an interesting concept when it comes to characters. If rituals can define a personality, then shouldn’t all characters have their own rituals? When it comes to fleshing out characters, we know their personality traits and even what’s in their handbag but what about the simple, often overlooked rituals of their lives? How does your character dry their hair? How do they lay when they fall asleep? Are there any rituals they do on their daily commute? Do they always skip over the crack on the step of the house?
Discovering the little rituals in someone’s life is like uncovering a layer of themselves that they might not even know about.