Lately, I have seen my mother descend into some strange pattern of behavior. She wakes, works, cooks, watches tv, and goes to bed. Even on the days off, the work aspect is replaced with cleaning done to a work level. Recently she took a week off from work and spent it ‘pottering’ with very little excitement to be had. Last week I talked about ritual and its importance and this week I want to quote spiderman and say, with great power comes great responsibility. It is important to have things that stop the chaos but in doing so, you shouldn’t let your rituals rule your life. My mother cleans out of habit. Out of boredom. Out of not having anything else to do. It sounds sad on the surface but she has grown so content she no longer searches for replacements. I am not undoing any of the words I said last week and I stick by the importance of routines but I do think there is a level of obsession you have to be aware of. My mother now borders on the line of OCD despite numerous articles telling me that sudden onsets are rare after the age of fifty.
I am saying our brains are computers and we have to know which programs to keep open and when to close them. We have to be careful not to overload ourselves and run ourselves straight into the ground. My mother has arthritis yet insists spending five hours cleaning is the best choice for her day. You can offer to help and it will be rejected firmly. It is important we treat ourselves with love, with kindness, and listen to our bodies. I watch the lives of my parents, witness them waste a lot of time not living and filling their days not even remotely interested in finding anything better than a tv set and a dinner tray on their laps. They are creatures of habits in the harshest of senses. They are getting older now and have seemingly begun giving up. I worry they will look and wish they had done more than see drizzle and decide to stay indoors or not go out for dinner because they wanted to watch some TV show they could catch on repeat.
Use your rituals as weapons and if there are any signs of them firing backward put them down and reassess. As much as I hate crowds, hate noise, being close to people, I love concerts. The experience is worth it and there are a lot of mountains to conquer before I am comfortable. Sure, I still prefer smaller venues but I still face these issues. Living sometimes comes at a cost but I urge you to pay it. Instead of running away and allowing the seconds to disappear, use the ritual to conquer the mountain and live. For the love of God, live! I have said it to my parents enough times and they don’t listen but somewhere out there, somebody will. Live. Live. Live.