Life in my household has a certain rhythm to it. It’s partly circadian rhythms — the natural rise and fall of the day and the patterns associated with that — and it’s partly a negotiated rhythm that is kept in place by protocol. I think of that as ritualistic rhythm. It starts and ends my day, and there are various touch-points in-between.
This ritualistic rhythm reinforces our dynamic and strengthens our bonds. It’s a reminder of what we mean to each other. It also acts as a kind of canary in the coal-mine. If it goes out of synch, it’s an indication that there may be a potential problem.
The problem with rituals or protocol is that if you divorce them of their meaning and look at them individually, they can look small.
We greet each other in the morning in a particular way, but what if one day it was overlooked? It’s a small thing, so why be upset by it? We agree that I will be kept informed when certain things happen, but what if it’s a busy day and difficult to do that? Surely that’s understandable.
There is truth in this, and I’ll be the first to admit that I can be a stickler for ritual and find flexibility difficult. It’s something I need to work on. In my defense, I keep a close watch on my relationships, and when the canary falls off the perch my immediate reaction is to sound the alarm.
Perhaps I should learn to check first, in case the canary has just dropped to sleep and lost its balance.