It is in ritual that we find foundations and freedom. It is in ritual that we slip into a continuity that is greater than a self: an ether, if you would allow it. The constancy and comfort of ritual gives us space to dream bigger, to imagine wider, and to live with a depth of soul.
Rituals remind us that we were, that we are, and that we will continue on. Our minor habits: how we take our coffee, set our feet under or on our chairs, clasp our hands to our stomachs, brush our hair, cock our heads to the side, furrow our brows, smile, frown, laugh, whisper, and flirt – the repeat of them forms the lines of our face and the cast of our bodies that make us familiar to those who know us and unique to those who don’t. Our rituals have made us whole in a way unexpected.
But some rituals are meant to fade away.
For more than 7 years, more than 84 months, 2556 days, countless minutes, and lost seconds, I have worshiped, daily, at the altar of finance. I have humbled myself for, raged underneath, risen up, and been pushed down by, its mighty hand. This has been my daily sustenance, my ritual that has formed the cant of my chin, the square of my shoulders, the crevasse between my eyebrows, and the lines around the corners of my mouth. It has made and unmade me in ways both artificial and irreversible.
And today I finally accept that I am done. Not in anger or regret or shame; not with punishment or banishment – just a simple acceptance of mixed fondness and sympathy. The former for the history that is visible in the whorls on my fingertips; the latter for the misbegotten I must leave behind.
I am losing my religion and even though I know, haltingly and with trepidation (for this is all I know and all I have ever known, is it too late to seek a newer world?) that this is the right thing to do, I am opening up a chasm in my chest that will never quite stitch itself closed over the emptiness that it hides.
One day at some distant point in the future, I’ll open a newspaper and my hand will raise up to my forehead to reach the first station of the cross – and I’ll stop. One day while at a bar with friends I’ll overhear someone say something along the lines of “spot fifteen and fifty basis points” and my left knee will weaken as it begs the floor to rise up to meet it, but it won’t. Because this world I leave behind cannot wait for me and I will no longer belong to it.
I don’t know what awaits me outside the sanctity of this boiler room commune. Perhaps the grass is greener, the sky bluer, and the stars visible in the night sky. Perhaps not. Fortune does not favor the brave, but it cannot shine its bounty upon those who stay hidden from its eyes, and so—
Forgive me. I have sinned. But I will not repent; some rituals have need of new adherents and it’s time I made space for them.