I have watched my parents for a long long time. 53 years, to be precise!!
And my way of making meaning of what I observe has certainly changed :) For the longest time, it was why are they not paying attention to me? Where is my cuddle? Why are they not at the railway station to pick me up when I have travelled by train for 48 hours all the way from Jamshedpur to Ahmedabad after a gruelling period of study?
It was all about me way past my teens.... I was the princess who would sulk if the carpet was not laid out perfectly.
Then, things gradually started to shift... I began to see through a few different lenses.... my mum wanted different things to my dad... I would see them fight. I would see them kiss spontaneously. I would see Mum explaining why Dad may be in a bad mood and Dad asking her not to defend him. I would see the only rule in our house was to sit around the table for a meal and not get up until every one had finished.
Now, I go back and notice the same rituals in a different way. The morning tea and newspaper .... each of them reading the bits they enjoy. Dad cursing the bureaucracy and Mum asking him not to spoil her morning!!!!!
I make sense of this ritual in a totally different way today. This togetherness, this moment of doing your own thing, together is something they have done for a long time. I join in when I visit and find it immensely restorative.
And more recently, I discovered why rituals can build reservoirs of energy for when you need to tap into it. Even when you are doing the stuff that you enjoy, the act of focusing attention can create fatigue. In a mini experiment, I decided to take breaks every hour. Just a few minutes, I stepped away from whatever I was doing I stepped outdoors.
It was amazing how restorative those few minutes were! Suddenly, thoughts would emerge, perspectives would change and I could feel my mind expanding in different directions....
It seems there is research to back it up. If there is one thing you could do to build stores of energy, think about things differently, reflect on what is important, it may just be this.... stepping outdoors for a bit. Kaplan writes about it here.