i guess you could say the idea for this blog started last year on a farm, but it was only in november – right before the election – that i thought of the name. “casual observances” – this phrase came to mind as i watched two squirrels play on a tree outside my window; they were spinning in circles and making all kinds of loud noises and communicating about something that seemed very important, and their little display delighted me. observation, paying attention to the world, however mundane – isn’t this what makes life interesting, important?
“observance” struck me as kind of strange, though. why did i think of this? doesn’t an observance describe a religious holiday of sorts? maybe this didn’t capture what i felt did.
so i looked up these words in my webster dictionary, and stumbled upon a curious combination.
cas-u-al adj. 2. without definite or serious intention; careless or offhand; passing: a casual remark. 3. seeming or tending to be indifferent to what is happening; apathetic; unconcerned: a casual, nonchalant air.
ob-serv-ance n. 1. an act or instance of following, obeying, or conforming to: the observance of traffic laws.
suddenly it clicked. my life has been a stream of casual observances, in more ways than one. though i’m aware of the issues that plague our world, i have lived seemingly unaffected, indifferent; i live casually complicit, quietly acquiesced into the comforts of being a person of white privilege. and i have conformed or “observed” to all kinds of societal and social norms: i bought a car, i eat fast food and crappy produce, i shave my legs, i let men “mansplain” things to me, i’ve moved into gentrifying neighborhoods without any attempt to be involved in the community, i’ve worked jobs that shrivel my soul just to make money, i have walked straight past homeless people without helping or listening to them. the norms we are born into limit our freedom as individuals, they weaken us collectively, they perpetuate a backwards society and system. it’s time for me to bring light to my own habituations and DO something about them. it’s time to observe my own observances, i suppose.
right, ok, what the heck am i talking about? “casual observances” are all the accidental ways we conform. and they’re all the little happenings that, with proper attention, make life rich and keep us young. and now it’s also my blog that i started in gainesville florida and continue in new orleans. i tried to narrow down my blog into a theme – on food, or literature, or science and spirituality, or progressive political thought, or musings and dreams, etc – but alas my attention is too far and wide. thanks for stopping by, and i hope to hear from you soon.