ON THE RITUALIZATION OF MEANING. Christmas. Chanukah. Kwanza. Birthday. Halloween. Overnight Oats. Kale. Quinoa. Carbs. Zumba. Barre class. Backyard Barbecue. Lawn games. Going out. Staying in. Your drink. Your routine. “Your” method. “Your” process.

Civilization is bored. First world countries and their first world, first salary, populations are living and dying in a state of depressed boredom. We are pouring into meaningless acts in an effort to express meaning. We are ritualizing meaning instead of creating meaningful rituals.

Any action on repeat will do to momentarily alleviate the ennui. Let me continue to offer examples: the foods you avoid (you don’t like unnatural things, you think un-organic is unethical); the aspirin you won’t take (you think you’re a stronger person if you avoid artificial things like medicine); the foods you adopt (someone else’s suggested alternatives); your life in a big city (the provinces and suburbs are passe); your boyfriend (he may not be your soulmate but he’s someone); your girlfriend (your friends want to bang her and that’s something); the stupid shit you do with your girlfriend or boyfriend when you could be getting better in bed (wineries offer better photo opps). Anything and everything you pretend you’re too good for.

Clearly, I could go on. Why do we collectively tolerate such a lack of passion and individual meaning? We are not this stupid. We are not this cowardly. But we have been told our entire lives that rituals in and of themselves bring meaning. And we’ve been presented with those rituals from birth; patterns that have been so indoctrinated into our psyches we don’t question them anymore than our parents do. Pattern/ritual as meaningful in and of itself becomes the goal.

Football on Sundays. Bars on weekends. Exercise classes on weeknights. Rotting groceries in the fridge, because seamless. Happy hour with coworkers, because job security. Backyard anything, because you bought the damn house.

It is as if our lives have become a parade of truly pointless activities that mean nothing, that truly say nothing, about ourselves. Is it any wonder we have no idea who we are? Why we are so “confused?” Why we can’t pick a “career” or keep our places clean or stick to anything but these goddamn waste-of-time routines?

Life is not hard if you listen to yourself. Your (private) Life becomes very easy once you do that. What can be difficult are the innumerable subtle ways you’re told to stick to the game plan.

“Family is everything.”

“You must invite so-and-so to the wedding.”

“You were invited! You have to go!”

“Were you just sleeping!?”

“You never leave the house!”

“You know, that has pesticides in it.”

“Are you going home for Christmas?”

“Are you seeing anyone?”

“Still like it there?”

Those are just the vocal ones. And they don’t even know they’re doing it. The rest will snub you silently. They’ll just stop asking how you are altogether. Because you answered one too many times, “No, I’m not.” or in some cases “Yes, I am.” They take your answers personally because it threatens their way of life, the rituals. I wish it was hyperbolic to say so. It’s not.

There is, of course, nothing wrong with actually enjoying the routines you’ve been presented with, or adopted, that happen to fit your community mold. But for the rest, do they mean anything to you, or are they just part of your ritualization of meaning?

Originally published at itsaculturething.com.

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