Today I pulled my camping supplies down out of our attic to prepare for my annual father-son trip. My son, Gabe, and I are heading into the northeast United States with our German Shepherd, Sita. We usually stay in AirBnB’s and camp. This trip will take us into the White Mountains of New Hampshire and the North Maine Woods. The picture above is the first iteration of gathering supplies.
I have long had an interest in transformational ritual – those ceremonies designed to facilitate life changes; e.g., a wedding, bar mitzvah or vision quest. I have learned from anthropologists that there are four significant stages: the calling, the threshold, liminal space, and reincorporation. The calling is when you are put on notice that something important is going to happen. For a wedding, it is becoming engaged. The threshold is when you leave the mundane world and cross over into the sacred. For the marriage rite, it is arrival at the house of worship. Liminal space is the sacred time in which the actual transformation takes place. In my example, it is the wedding ceremony. And reincorporation is when the new state is integrated into day-to-day life. This begins with the reception when friends and family acknowledge the new couple as married.
Well, these trips my son, Gabriel, and I go on are transformational. We have been doing them since he was three – this year he is 21. We always have deep talks about our life journeys, visit critical issues, dig deep for insights that can change the ways we frame our lives. That’s how I think of them. Of course, there’s loads of laughter and fun, too – it’s not all so serious!
Pulling our supplies out of the attic activates the sacred. The tent, sleeping bags, cookware, first aid kits, a cooler, boots, knives, and so on take on special importance. I often put on music that lifts my spirits while I go through my checklist. Today it was the gospel music of Reverend Dr. James Cleveland. I frequently pause so I don’t feel rushed. Of course, it’s not a heavy or somber ritual. And it is always interrupted by family obligations or other activities. That’s just life. But, it does have its own integrity.
I apply this same model to get ready for a strategic planning retreat, or an all-staff meeting (I have both this coming week). It helps me focus and allows me to penetrate the hectic to-and-fro of life, to see what will be special, so I can act on my intentions.
Is there something special you are preparing for in the week ahead that could use an uplifting approach?
“The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.”
H Jackson Brown, Jr