Last summer I had the pleasure of visiting Hillwood Museum and Gardens in Washington, DC. The museum consists of the former home of Marjorie Merriweather Post, heiress, businesswoman, and art collector extraordinaire. I spent the afternoon gazing at priceless porcelain and dazzling jewels and wandering gardens filled with too many varieties of flower to name under a perfect blue sky.
Yes, the collection was remarkable, the setting splendid, and the home itself opulent. And yet what I came away most impressed by the recognition that seizing beauty isn’t something to postpone.
At the end of my visit I lingered in the gift shop. After seeing Marjorie’s fabulous collection, I wanted something beautiful of my own. I dithered and fretted, balking at the price of a Russian porcelain teacup.
“Just get it,” my friend Ali said.
I took her at her word, and she was a good sport as I spent the next 15 minutes deliberating which design I needed to bring home.
I’m now the proud owner of a teacup and saucer that cost more than some of my college textbooks. But self-indulgence wasn’t the point, not really. It was about giving myself permission to go after beauty and allow it into my everyday life. It was about permission to pause, to create a ritual that allowed moments to be savored.
In a world where we move from activity to activity seemingly second by second, we may need rituals more than ever.
Rituals anchor us. They provide focus in days that are often unpredictable. They offer time that is our own, to shape as we choose.
Rituals calm us. They offer comfort. They offer a moment to look forward to. They create space that allows mind and body to be still.
And powerfully, and perhaps counter to what we may often imagine in the creative process, rituals provide stability. Stability promotes routine, routine promotes consistency, and consistency means things get done.
Do you have a favorite ritual that has helped to foster your creativity? Drop a line in the comments!