Creating ritual from routine
It’s my responsibility to walk the dogs every morning, something I’ve been doing for years. Other than keeping an eye out for other dogs that might create a ruckus, and picking up the poop, it tends to be a time when I’m thinking about what’s ahead for the day, or else my mind just wanders. Some days it’s a pleasant way to start the day, and sometimes it just seems like a necessary chore. Awhile ago, I decided that it would be a nice habit to notice something about nature each day. It might be the light or cloud formations in the sky, how the low morning light shines through leaves or makes the dew on the grass glisten, or the sharp shadows on cloudless days. It could be an interesting bird taking flight, or a ladybug on a leaf. Sometimes it’s the smell of flowering trees (the scent of lilac carried on the breeze is one of my favorites.) The changing seasons shows in the cycle of trees: budding, flowering, full green, fall color, bare branches. Even though I take the same route most days, there’s always something changing or new to notice.
I love to see overhead wires stretched, twisted and drooping, manmade line drawings against a cloud patterned sky, water running along the curb on its way to the sewer after a rain, cracks in the street’s blacktop reminding of the power of freeze and thaw cycles to wreak havoc with the built environment, but also leaving a painterly imprint.
This momentary attention to my surroundings creates a ritual experience that elevates the routine into something that takes my attention away from thoughts about what I have to do that day. It’s not quite meditation, but it serves a similar purpose. Mindfulness with a focus. It’s a reminder that even the most mundane tasks create meaning in our day.
I recently started taking a daily photo to document the variety of things that catch my attention, and have been posting on instagram. Check out my page (gary_rosard_architect) or search #walkingthedogsgr to see the full portfolio.