When I lived in Florida, I taught with a lovely woman who had once been a New York City Rockette. We shared an office and on Monday mornings often discussed what we had done over the weekend. My friend didn’t just plan her classes for the week, she also planned out her entire wardrobe for the week, choosing and prepping each outfit she would wear and arranging them in order in her closet. This careful focus impressed me as my own usual habit was to grab for the first laundered dress I saw in my closet. I’ve thought often since then of the sense of careful command and readiness she must have felt in starting her week this way.
The whole process of dressing to start your day does have a certain feeling of ritual to it, even for me, in part just because it is a sequence that we (at least most of us) repeat at the beginning of each day. I do pay attention to how I dress (not, perhaps, to Helen’s level, but still . . . ), and I feel a certain rightness when the process goes as I plan. Dressing for the day is somehow about more than assuring coverage of body parts, but is a formal (at least thoughtful) preparation to meet the events that come in a day. In other words, the process of dressing prepares, even arms one for the day.
I’m not the first to see dressing as a formal part of arming one’s self for events to come. In Medieval literature, knights are often described as they don their armor, with vivid details being given to each item they put on. A prime example can be found in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight before Sir Gawain goes to face the Green Knight (who can function even after his head is cut off!) (lines 566–590). This detailed preparation leads to success.
Like preparing a meal, dressing our bodies is a process that can be experienced as ritual, allowing our attention to settle as we reflect on how we want to present ourselves to the new day. It’s an opportunity to start anew while remembering what is important in the unfolding of our lives each day. How would you frame dressing as Ritual in your life? You’re invited to share.
- http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-medieval-armor-detail-european- image62089126#res5189410