It is absurd how a haircut positively rescues the day. But then, it was the absence of a haircut in my recent past that made yesterday something to rescue. When I looked ugly, when I needed a shower or to trim my nails, when my hair was draping limply over my scalp, I could not work, and it nearly killed me to be obliged to work in public. I am talking about uni.

I am reading a book on the requirements of a creative process, by Twyla Tharp, the choreographer. She writes mainly about the importance of ritual and routine, two practices that I have somehow shucked off during the past two years. My poems and projects have suffered, but I have suffered apart from my intellectual and artistic output as well. Tharp's comments seem relevant both to the lack of a habit fulfilling my writerly need for a grooming session before I sit down with a pen or a book, and to the lack of Carl Sagan's "spirituality" in my schedule.

I am beginning to crave some non-religious ritual, a rite of focussed concentration on deeply important ideas and experiences to observe regularly, the atheist's equivalent to going to church. The habit I will develop will likely include silence, walking outdoors, music, and poetry, in various combinations. I've found it easy [though not pleasant] to ignore personal and aesthetic contemplation since I moved out of my parents' house and took on all the distracting responsibilities of day-to-day subsistence, but the resulting stress, scattered brain, and feeling of alienation have been less painless to cope with.