Ritual versus routine (1)

I got up at 4:30 this morning, got dressed, made coffee, walked the dog, went to the gym, went to work, had my lunch hour walk, and came home.  Full circle.  Routine.

routine |roōˈtēn|


a sequence of actions regularly followed; a fixed program : I settled down into a routine of work and sleep | as a matter of routine a report will be sent to the director.

• a set sequence in a performance such as a dance or comedy act : he was trying to persuade her to have a tap routine in the play.

• Computing a sequence of instructions for performing a task that forms a program or a distinct part of one.


performed as part of a regular procedure rather than for a special reason : the principal insisted that this was just a routine annual drill.

• monotonous or tedious : we are set in our dull routine existence.

verb [ trans. ] rare

organize according to a routine : all had been routined with smoothness.


routinely adverb

ORIGIN late 17th cent. (denoting a regular course or procedure): from French, from route ‘road’ (see route ).


For me, the word routine conjures images of the drab and mundane.  A mindless, monotonous set of events that we do, follow.  There is a sense of inevitability about routine, that it grinds away any sense of individuality and leaves us as drooling animatons (ORIGIN late Middle English : from Latin animat- ‘instilled with life,’ from the verb animare, from anima ‘life, soul.’).  How strange is that?  That we lose and gain meaning.


I woke up this morning to utter stillness, cocooned in my blankets, it was so early that I had yet to hear the first plane roar overhead.  Madeline was nestled by the heater in the front room, content.  I laid there for a few extra minutes, soaking in the quiet.  When we went out, dark, the stars were still glittering in the sky.  Condensation coated the cars and the cold sat thick on my skin.

Later I drove to the gym.  The flow of traffic and the personality of the traffic lights in that moment; lazy, yet purposeful, responsive and unconfused because we were just a few on the road.  Treadmill and weights.  Sweat and heart.  My muscles screamed at me.  They were there, I was alive.

And the flow of cars on the freeway, and booting up the computer, and sipping coffee as I went through my email, savoring the sweet bitterness.  The sun was out today, and bare the clouds etched the sky.

And the rest.


ritual |ˈri ch oōəl|



a religious or solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order : the ancient rituals of Christian worship | the role of ritual in religion.

• a prescribed order of performing such a ceremony, esp. one characteristic of a particular religion or church.

• a series of actions or type of behavior regularly and invariably followed by someone : her visits to Joy became a ritual.

adjective [ attrib. ]

of, relating to, or done as a religious or solemn rite : ritual burial.

• (of an action) arising from convention or habit : the players gathered for the ritual pregame huddle.


ritually adverb

ORIGIN late 16th cent. (as an adjective): from Latin ritualis, from ritus (see rite ).

I will come back to this.  I’m not a fan of the religious connotations to the word “ritual”.  Yeah, I know I’m part of a global minority.  The point to underscore in the meaning of the word is, in fact, meaning.  “Solemn ceremony”, a rite. Something that involves a deeper significance.

Again, more later.  Things are percolating.


2 thoughts on “Ritual versus routine (1)

  1. You are neither routine nor unskilled. You write, you love, you cook and keep a lovely, warm home. You are good to your mother and grandmother to say nothing of the dog. You are passionate in what you do. Someday others will have a chance to read more of your writing, for now just live.

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