15 Apr Everyday Sacredness
Given my interest in rites of passage these days, I am often asked for suggestions about how to create ritual outside of large events like G Day.
While far from being an expert (along the lines of friends and G Day supporters Nikiah Seeds, Tamara Cotton or G Day Toronto Community Leader Emily Antflick), I want to share my daughter’s recent ear piercing as an example from my own life of what it can look like to bring greater Significance to everyday life events (to borrow Signy Wilson‘s – one of Gigi’s Godmothers- favourite word!).
The key ingredients, as I see them, are becoming conscious around the why and how of an activity, choosing co-participants (if applicable) carefully, then witnessing the experience with reverence.
I know that I’m not the only parent who has experienced anxiety around ear piercing for girls: when is the “right” time, how best/most safely to have it done, and why does it feel like such a big deal for some of us?
G first started asking when she could have them done several years ago. My standard response became “When you start your period”: in other words, when I felt ready, without committing to a particular time. After a while she began to call me out on the lack of specificity in my answer, and, far more importantly, the underlying assumption of power and agency. One day, her question changed to “Why do you get to decide? It’s my body.” Boom. The real issue had arrived: it was clearly time for a better answer.
Not long after this conversation took place, we agreed that the piercing would be part of celebrating her 10th birthday.
Having agreed to it, I took to Facebook to seek the wisdom of my peers on where to have it done, and soon became aware of controversy around the cleanliness of gun piercing versus hand piercing: who knew? I shopped around a bit and settled on a highly-regarded Body Art studio that was happy to accommodate children as young as 6. “Make sure she has a full tummy before her appointment,” the receptionist cheerfully advised.
I have only visited a Body Art studio (what I once would have quaintly called a Tattoo parlour) once in my life, to have my ears re-pierced (interestingly!) following G’s birth 10 years ago. I had struggled for many years with metal allergies and eventually given up wearing earrings for several years, to the point where the holes had grown over. To celebrate my new status of Motherhood, I had a friend make me a simple pair of gold hoops with largeish pearls (if you only have one pair of earrings, I reasoned, make it special). I have seldom taken them out since.
Anyhow, back to the Body Art parlour: what a friendly, spacious, light-filled spot. The staff were clearly anticipating G’s arrival, and expressed excitement and enthusiasm over it being her first piercing. They say in business that you need to “be” your product or service: these folks clearly take this idea to heart! G later remarked “At first they looked scary, but they were so nice!”
We were taken to a private room by the owner himself (who took the time to shake our hands and do proper introductions – something that I have often wished for from anyone who touches people as part of their work – think pedicures, facials, dentists etc), where he carefully explained exactly what was about to transpire. I lost count of how many times he washed his hands and changed gloves; it was all carried along with such a cheery, yet highly direct set of information about what he was doing and how to care for the piercings.
And then, with a deep breath all together (twice!), it was done, finished off with a surprise (organic, hello!) lollypop at the end. We all said our thank yous and goodbyes and stepped out into the sunshine, the person at my side different in more ways than one (make that two!) than the one who had entered with me.
How it might have been different at a chain store in a mall? The result, at least on a physical level, would likely have been the same (the gun vs no gun argument seems to boil down to the inability to autoclave the instrument, thus heightening the risk of transmission/infection), however I like to think that this way made it more special, as well as conscious (literally: I would imagine that the gun piercing would have been faster). I also have to say that I don’t exactly love the idea of a gun pointed at my kid’s head, regardless of the harmlessness of its purpose.
The main point to me is that the experience was much more than just something that “happened” as a matter of course, or that we “had done”: the piercing now has a story. We got clear on what it (actually) meant for both of us, found some highly skilled (and colourful!) characters to help us out, and voila: a powerful expression of personal autonomy, safely and sensitively delivered.
How does this land for you? What are some ways that you create everyday sacredness?