Ceremony

Ceremony: (n) a formal religious or public occasion

We catered the food so it must be good.

We rented expensive tuxedos, so we’re certainly on our way to a major event.

We brought out the cloth napkins. Must be important guests.

We’re also using the best china. It’s been a while.

We got a haircut. Time to look better.

We trimmed our beard or fussed with our eyebrows. Must be on the way to see the President.

We lit a candle. It’s got to be more spiritual.

Ceremony is when we believe that certain rituals or articles have more significance–therefore they announce greater value. Because of that, certain aspects of life have become ceremonial.

We can’t worship God without dressing up, getting in a car, going to church, sitting on our perch and being led through a series of pre-fabricated and pre-tested ceremonies.

We cannot get married without spending tens of thousands of dollars, confirming to everybody that we’re worth it and “this thing is really on the level.”

Ceremony robs us of the joy of simply enjoying good things for no damn good reason whatsoever.

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Ambience

dictionary with letter A

Ambience: (n) the character and atmosphere of a place

I guess some vibes are normal.

For instance, at a funeral home, there is usually organ music, the sickening smell of flowers and people whispering tearful regrets.

At a rock concert, there’s screaming, with people pumping their fists, patting each other on the back and yelling lyrics at a stage which is too far away to hear.

In Washington, D.C., ladies and gentlemen dress up in their parents’ clothes and follow the rules of a Parliament they fought an eight-year war to escape.

And in church … well, sometimes it’s a somber climate with worshipful silence, and in other places, it’s tambourines, drums and modern interpretations of songs written by shepherd boys on a lute.

How important is ambience?

If I walk into a restaurant and the waiters are wearing tuxedos, the food is not necessarily going to be better–just expensive.

I think the aura or overall feeling that best exemplifies our country, though, is a beach on a Saturday afternoon at about 2:30. It is the oddest collage of beauty, beast, coolers, umbrellas, tanning lotion, tossed balls, screaming children, strutting studs and prancing babes.

It is America:  we boldly worship the sun while knowing that it’s slowly killing us with skin cancer, convinced that we have every right to occupy the available space on the sand, which is the width and length of our blanket and also, completely and arrogantly confident that we are just as good as the next bathing suit nearby.

Ambience is a tricky thing.

It’s used to telegraph propriety in a world that no longer knows what a telegraph is.

It’s a bit old-fashioned, it’s a bit presumptuous, and it certainly is often misleading.

Yet each one of us does generate an individual glow around us, which is either inviting or repelling.

And determining what that beam of self turns out to be … will decide our happiness.