My wedding ring must come off. And, then I eventually put it back on. This is not a mind trip, or an indication of a failing marriage. In fact, it’s oddly about my exercise routine, which includes getting in the pool to swim laps a couple times per week.
What I have come to realize, however, is that the act of removing the ring (and then putting it back on my finger) has become a ritual of sorts. I say, “of sorts” because I am – unfortunately - not the type of person who exercises with the regularity I ought. Thus, the act is only as ritualistic as my actual time spent in the pool. Still, over the course of the last two years of swimming, I have gone through this act enough times to think about what the ring means to me.
Coming out of the pool, I am usually invigorated. Whether it’s the middle of a hot summer, or the third Thursday of shitty snowfall in March when I can barely stand the sight of snow, a swim will completely alter my psyche… and only in the best of ways. I am almost always invigorated after a swim. Even if it’s nearly impossible to get to the pool, I feel better once I’m done with my swim. That is simply the effect water has on me. So when I emerge from the pool, with more energy than when I arrived, I am in an altered state. This place, or state of mind, is what contributes to the energy I feel when putting my wedding ring back on to my ring finger.
I am, in that moment, a better version of me. My heart beats strong. My lungs feel expanded. Since I have taken a warm shower, followed by an application of Lavender lotion (applied in the sauna during the winter months), I also feel that “ready to start my day” feeling that typically accompanies such a routine. I also feel like giving myself a little pat on the back for having gotten myself into the pool in the first place; I suppose there is some sense of pride in the completion of my swimming routine.
At some point, I began to associate all of these feelings with not only the completion of a swim, but with the placement of that ring on my finger. And of course, it wasn’t long before the ritual of putting on my ring reminded me of how good it is to be alive – not only after a swim, but in general.
And so, it is in all of the acts which are part of a seemingly mundane swimming routine, that I have adopted a ritual – one that renews my physical self, and that also renews my spiritual self. I never realized that stripping away such a beautiful symbol would actually come to reify its symbology in my life, and to ultimately make me the (better) person I am becoming.