cappuccino in paper cup with chalkboard in background at stumptown coffee roasters portland oregon

ritual comfort

Last October, as I pulled into Starbucks for the third (or fourth) time that week, I noticed a sign in the window that said, “Seek comfort in the rituals.” At that moment, I realized the power in their seemingly simple marketing strategy, and I also appreciated how completely true that statement was.

We are creatures of habit. If you ever question this, go through a breakup and see what happens next. Pay attention to what you end up doing to self-soothe…you tend to fall back into the habits that bring you comfort and stability- and help you regain control over your world. You call old friends. You go out more. You dive into your work. You get up every morning, grab some chai and a scone, and start your day. And there is something tremendously satisfying and comforting about knowing exactly how (at least part of) your daily routine is going to go. When we find ourselves in the midst of chaos, we attempt to regain control wherever we can, even if it’s just in a mug of chai every morning somewhere between 9:52 and 10:04.

Most of us know what it’s like to go through a breakup and find it difficult at times to feel comfort. Memories and regrets creep up on us when we least expect them to. It happens. The good memories plot their sneak attacks, and like tiny knife wounds they twist your heart for a second. Sometimes you feel like you’ve swallowed a fork. It can be generally uncomfortable just being in our own skin because it’s damn near impossible to escape the memories and questions that play like movies on a reel, over and over. But as habitual beings, we are blessed (cursed?) with an arsenal of cliched coping mechanisms that help us get through the tough times…you know the sayings….”Everything happens for a reason,” “Every time a door closes, a window opens,” or as Semisonic put it, “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end”… but my personal favorite? “Time heals all.”  It’s a cliche for a reason…because time actually, in fact, does heal all.

There are experiences we go through that are poignant and painful. They leave us raw and vulnerable. They can make us cynical. They threaten to jade us. But realistically, what are our options? We could become jaded and bitter, I suppose. Or we could go about our lives, seek comfort in the rituals, and before we know it, time marches on and things gradually, steadily, slowly feel better.

And ritual comforts, no matter how trivial or generally insignificant they might be, help move that process along.



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