Think, for a moment, about our condition — the
human condition. We exist inside eternity and infinity. We live our entire lives somewhere
inside a stretch of time that seems to have no beginning or end. We exist inside a stretch
of space that has no known edges. We use these abstractions called time and space to define
ourselves and our place in the universe. But these abstractions are too large. They
don’t fit inside our heads. Our imaginations are too limited to make sense of the immensity
of space and time. Even when we do understand how large space and time are, it is difficult
to maintain that understanding. So we do the best we can. We make things up
and litter these abstractions with markers so we may make sense of the world we live
in. To deal with the infinity of space, we mark it with milestones, monuments, walls,
borders, and boards. We use these markers to make sense of distances and to be able
to tell “here” from “there”. To deal with the eternity, we mark it with
similar markers in time. These time-markers are rituals. These are events that happen
at crucial points in time. A change of seasons, or the beginning or the end of a solar cycle,
or the sighting of a star or the moon. We spend time making these markers worth remembering. We associate symbols and signs to them And we remember them when they are gone.
Often, rituals are associated with religion, but their roots lie in human nature itself.
Brushing your teeth every morning is a ritual. Calling your mother at a certain point of
time in the day can be seen as a ritual. A ritual is anything our day is marked with.
It keeps order in our lives. Why do we do all this? Hard to say. But it
is probably because we CAN’T NOT do all this. Human beings are conscious creatures
reacting to their surroundings in imaginative ways. It is one of the defining characteristics
of human beings — of being human.