The house is unusually quiet.
The clicking of her longer-than-usual fingernails on the laptop keyboard echoes in her ears as her pinkie makes a demanding pressured sound on the “enter” key.
She slides her right-hand, diamond heirloom ring—the one that ancestors as far back as her great-great grandfather wore—back into place.
Her coffee cools beside her as she takes earthy sips with her left hand.
The house is unusually quiet because her husband has taken their small daughter to school since she hasn’t felt well enough to, and she’s also not been able to attend yoga class. Their whole routine is thrown off by her aching ribs and by the help that she now needs rather than craves.
They have a lot of adjusting to do though, seeing that a newborn daughter will shortly arrive. (She momentarily envisions the way her tiny daughter holds her thumb and forefinger only slightly apart when she tells her “the baby will arrive shortly.”)
And there is so much routine to life.
Our lives are filled with rituals that happen on so small a scale that we rarely notice how integral they are to our mental make-up, much less to our day.
The particular way she makes her coffee. The handful of earrings that she rotates wearing. The precise time she puts her daughter’s backpack on and takes her hand, walking out to the car.
Yet some rituals are more obvious.
The way she moves her limbs slowly, with the pacing of her breath, on her green Jade mat. The uttering of gratitude before she puts food onto her tongue. The kiss and accompanying “I love you” she gifts to her husband each morning on his way out the front door.
And when we lose these rituals we lose a piece of ourselves, without fully understanding what it is that has been lost.
Because does the amount of peanut butter she prefers on her toasted bread really matter? Equally, does the amount of milk she splashes into her coffee?
They matter to her—and we realize the priority of these trivial aspects of our lives when we run out of coffee beans and have to head to the store for a non-preferred brand.
We recognize the way we like our lives performed when our normalcies become out of sync with what’s actually occurring.
In short, our lives frequently run like smoothly oiled machinery until jam!—something gets stuck and everything becomes topsy turvy.
But it’s these little blips—that force us to try on different, and sometimes challenging, experiences—that force us to grow, to move upward and outward, rather than to flourish stagnantly, where we’re really not flourishing at all, but we can’t tell (so involved in our day-to-day lives).
And she chooses to grow.
She chooses to feel her rib cage expand achingly with a new inhalation and to mindfully slide her unexpectedly relaxed shoulderblades down her back with her exhales. This might not be a yoga practice on a green Jade mat, but it’s a yoga practice for sure—and she’s created a new ritual that rises and greets, along with the dawning sun.
And she chooses to let her mom, here to help with her small daughter while she is physically limited, splash milk into coffee; like Goldilocks, seeking what’s just right, but, instead, discovering a changed ritual of love in this preparation of velvety drink.
It’s meant to undulate and shake and wiggle us free from the debris of the dirty ground that our crackling seeds grew out from underneath.
We are not meant to stand still.
We get into cozy, sweet spots of ease with our routines—with our daily rituals—and we grieve and anger and irritate when the sweetness is replaced with stickiness; when our smoothly oiled machines switch gear directions entirely.
And as we move into a new day, or perhaps a new night, we might lift up or lay down our heads on the same pillowcase, but we are transformed, changed and made new ourselves with each breath and each now-moment.
With this new moment.
And with this one.
She again turns the ring on her right hand. The house is not as quiet.
She hears the hum of the refrigerator and the rhythmic clacking of her computer keys. Her pinkie, less demanding, gently taps “enter.”
Her ribs still hurt; her coffee has cooled completely; her shoulders have somehow ridden slightly back up. Noticing this, she consciously lifts her heart, and her burdens slide down and off her back again, naturally.
Because when we allow our inner light to reach out and up with hope, with gratitude and with grace, we discover that we are never too rigid to flow with life’s changes, and we are never too stiff to sit immobile on an ever-turning world.
No, we are never truly still anyways; our breath always echoing and moving within our seemingly static chests.
She touches her rounding belly lightly with her left hand, and feels ready for change.