On ritual and reflection

It has now been two years since I travelled to Touchstone to take Rachel Sager‘s class. Unbeknownst to me at the time, that would be the pivotal experience that set me on the path down which I am now travelling. Since then, for whatever reason, I have taken to celebrating this ‘anniversary’ of sorts.

At first I thought I was being silly and sentimental (and I probably am, to some degree), but I like the ritual and tradition of it. I also like that it clearly establishes a marker against which I can measure my progress and serves as a reminder to stop and take stock of how far I’ve come and how far I have yet to go.

This year, in addition to listening to Josh Ritter’s “Lark” (my Touchstone theme song), I celebrated by going on my first foraging outing of the year. It was still a bit early in the season and the waters were high at my favourite scavenging spot, but they had receded just enough that there was a thin strip of shoreline for me to explore.

This is my favourite foraging spot. An appropriate place to celebrate my Touchstone anniversary.

This is my favourite foraging spot. An appropriate place to celebrate my Touchstone anniversary.

While down at the river’s edge, I sat down on a big boulder and took a moment to reflect. No deep or revelatory thoughts in particular, just a general feeling of satisfaction when, in my mind’s eye, I set “Grounded” (that first piece) and “Quod erat demonstrandum” (my latest piece) side by side and saw that, yes, in fact, I have made progress. And also a feeling of excitement when I started to think about all that potentially lies in store for me if I keep showing up and doing the work.

I'd say I've made some progress!

I’d say I’ve made some progress!

I think it’s important to occasionally step back and assess. Whether you do it once a year or just on an ad hoc basis, it’s a good exercise: it helps put things in perspective and it gives you a little motivating push (or a kick in the pants if you’ve been slacking). I’ve tried doing it by calendar year, but it just doesn’t hold as much meaning for me and seems rather arbitrary. So I will continue to celebrate my Touchstone anniversary and use it as a prompt to pause and reflect. And if nothing else, it’s a good excuse to go foraging…!

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  1. Travelling feet: Half of my contribution to Rachel Sager’s Ruins Project | Julie Sperling Mosaics - January 14, 2016

    […] rock from where I live (Ottawa) and this particular batch was foraged in celebration of my second Touchstone anniversary. The big chunks of off-white rock with the beautiful pockets and pits are from the cottage, which […]

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