I hate block breaks. I know that might sound crazy, but hear me out. I love CC, and the block plan, but I probably chose the wrong school. I crave routine, so seriously switching it up once a month kind of messes with me. I still get nervous on first Mondays. Change is hard, and I’m not good at it. I rely on my schedule, my daily routine. Everyone has them—things you do day after day, week after week, so consistently that after a while they’re just a part of you. In so many ways, our rituals are our armor—what we hide behind, take comfort in, lean on. Rituals are deeply personal, small (or big) things you do for yourself on quiet mornings or before you fall asleep. It’s how we guard ourselves against the shitshow of everything else.
Einstein famously said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. But what result are we seeking? A better day, a better mood, something good to happen that we may or may not deserve? There is a pleasure we take in doing what we know, and know well. What is more telling, maybe, are the gaps between the routine. Sometimes the breach is forced by block breaks or holidays. This interruption is important, uncomfortably necessary.
As writer Anne Lamott puts it, “Daily rituals can be the knots you hold on to when you run out of rope.” Because sometimes you do run out of rope. Griffin Mansi (pg. 12) presents a profile of a man who might be running out of rope, but clings to the home he has built for himself. Everyone’s “knot” is different. When rituals become stale routines, it takes self-examination to shake yourself awake. Sometimes you have to remove yourself from your environment and go somewhere radically new, as Jackson Truesdale did (pg. 34). Or maybe rethinking things after looking at provocative art (pg. 26). Steven King and Stanley Kubrick both created worlds rife with terrifying rituals. Charlotte Wall visited and investigated the hotel that inspired them (pg. 8). Whether they are healthy or not, rituals are what get us through it all.
Enjoy your crossword,
Maddie Pillari and the Cipher Editors
Part of the Ritual Issue