Contents - This Great Society - Issue 5, Mythology - December 2009/January 2010
Thoughts and Analysis
Mindy Heins
The Comfort of the Gods
Illustration by Mindy Heins

A sweet smell wafts upwards from the steeping tea bag. I gently bend to inhale the aroma as the moisture kisses my face. I enjoy these morning rituals. They give me comfort and solace. I need them for daily nourishment. Each year I try to explore a new ritual or adopt another’s I fancy.

Last year I went to my aunt’s place in the Okanagan. They had a beautiful home and view, but rarely went down to the lake. So they instituted a change, filling a picnic basket with warm preserves, braised lamb and organic salads. And so began their practice of picnicking. Since then, they have enrolled in sailing lessons and have cultivated a large growing garden. Plump tomatoes, earthy raw garlic and leafy lettuce line their backyard and provide both nourishment and a sense of home. Often I find myself enjoying the view but not necessarily taking in the experience. Last year that changed, as I too instituted the practice of picnicking.

Home and a sense of home is something I came to late in life. In the first year of my program at university, we discussed routines, in particular morning routines: from how you put on your socks to how you brush your teeth. Each person shared their story, reveling in the particular order and quality that each occasioned: the tooth brushing with minty toothpaste before breakfast, a neatly-made bed or a preferred face cleanser. I, on the other hand, found myself alarmed to not recall anything so specific: there was no particular toothpaste, no particular routine. The only routine I followed was that I had to be dressed for breakfast, which was an entirely new addition to my day. I had recently moved to “Sheriff Hall,” an all-girls’ residence brimming with small legions of 17 and 18 year-olds excited by their newfound freedoms but still linked to their parents’ purse strings. Having spent the last three years living on my own with roommates, I felt as though I had gone from high school to primary school. The large, echoey hall filled with giggly post-pubescent girls felt wrong on a number of levels, and definitely did not feel like home. Looking up from my paper, I quickly realized that my one routine was more of an abhorrence than a pleasure.

When I moved to Sheriff Hall those years ago, I realized I did in fact have rituals, but they had been temporarily abandoned, leaving me feeling slightly lost. I no longer had my after-dinner tea to settle me into bed, or my late-night chat with my roommate to keep me both grounded and amused. I was completely removed from my rituals and, therefore, from my daily sources of comfort. During this time at school in Halifax, I came to understand the importance of the routines I took for granted. The things that can bring us comfort amidst the blight of day-to-day drudgery, and seemingly endless lists of “todo’s.”

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