… and the extraordinary familiarity of everyday
I recently read a passage in a book comparing the ‘beauty of the strange’ and the ‘beauty of the familiar’. This has gotten me to think quite a bit about these two concepts and their appearances in my own life. Traveling and visiting new places is thrilling, but there’s something undeniably pleasurable about staying home in your own little nest. Of course, this is an interesting time to be writing about the enjoyment of staying at home as millions of people around the world are quarantined or self-isolating in the wake of a global pandemic. However, perhaps this is an even more appropriate time to approach the topic of gratitude and how everyday rituals can be acts of confidence and comfort.
Contrary to a Big Move overseas and a fair bit of travel, I have always been a homebody. It is vital to me whenever I move to make myself a comfortable home base, a nest- my own space in the world that’s just mine. My rooms have always been dripping with postcards, photos from travels or of family members, ticket stubs, coffee stamp cards, etc. The shelves positively ache with the weight of books I’ve read or have a place on my infinite ‘To Read’ list. As wonderful as all these things are, it is the routines and rituals that take place within my home that really highlight the ‘beauty of the familiar’. These are the things that bring that concept to life.
I find that nowadays I very rarely make just one cup of tea. With a house of six and a partner who rarely says no to a scalding hot brew, I’ve grown accustomed to the routine of making tea. I’ve become increasingly pleased with the morning ritual – I roll out of bed and trod downstairs in slippered feet and with messy hair. The electric kettle bubbles on and the mugs are placed in line on the counter awaiting their baptism. I’m always proud of myself if I manage to make it up the stairs with two cups and none of their precious drops get spilled either on me or the navy blue carpet.
I love knitted jumpers. To anyone who knows me or has seen my closet, this is no surprise. Whilst I have several that are in frequent rotation throughout the weeks (winter or summer, it doesn’t matter to me), there is one that stands out in my mind as The Favorite. The washing and wearing of this coveted item is another ritual of mine. It doesn’t get a good clean as often as it probably should, but when it is washed, it is the first article of clothing from the washing machine that is removed. It gets a special place of honor on the radiator in my room. This space has been set aside for it from before the washing machine was loaded; it’s a VIP section, if you will. When I can wear it again, it’s like a small version of Christmas morning. I take great comfort not only in the coziness of the item itself, but in the love that is given to it and the careful steps I follow throughout the process.
My journal is a lifeline and something I devote time to regularly. Since I moved to London, I have kept a series of these journals. Some weeks I spend more time with writing than others, but I am seldom caught without a journal on my person. For me, writing in these books is a form of almost sacred meditation that holds a deep value. Filling them with quotes, daily synopses, or doodles allows a kind of calm to wash over me that is unlike any other I experience. If you take nothing else away from this article, I would highly recommend journaling as a way to ground yourself, especially in the increasing chaos and uncertainty of the daily events in the news.
While all of these things seem relatively small in the grand scheme of things, they’re important to me. They give my everyday life reliable constants. Even if the rest of the day is without schedule or goes exceedingly poorly, I can fall back on these rituals to grant me peace, a bit of confidence, and a sense of comfort.
A friend once told me that routine is the backbone of creativity and happiness. The structure that a routine provides, allows creativity to relax a bit and enjoy itself more without being burdened by a completely blank slate to fill every day. Of course, some days there will be no routines or rituals at all, but the days that are graced with these little practices give me a sense of extraordinary familiarity that aches in its splendor. On days when deadlines are encroaching or the world seems to have gone mad, I know that flipping on the kettle and gently filling the mugs with tea bags will feel the same. Washing my jumper and carefully hanging out to dry will feel the same. Opening my journal and spending time in its pages will feel the same. After all, what is done in love is done well. I love doing these things and I take great comfort in knowing they’ll be done well.