Birthday greetings are posted to Facebook. We rarely gather around an open fire, beat the drums, and chant.
We have largely given up rituals. A ritual is a solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order.
The older a person gets the more transitions he or she has experienced. I think the omission of rituals has a cumulative effect that is experienced, in my case anyway, as a sort of emptiness.
Rituals enable other people to acknowledge our transitions. There is some comfort in this. Even if the transition itself is scary, or unpleasant in some other way, the companionship can be deeply reassuring.
I have an audio recording of a conference with the title Men and the Life of Desire. The event was led by Robert Bly, Michael Meade, and James Hillman. Listening to it is a grounding experience. Michael Meade handles the drumming. Robert Bly inserts poetry. James Hillman brings his sonorous voice to bear on the mood and atmosphere. The combination is powerful.
Men these days do not acknowledge desire. Instead, they report to the office and suffer in silence. That might be what caused the end of ritual. We just surrendered our spirit to convention and predictability.
As time goes by we become increasingly aware that our time on this planet is limited. We watch babies grow up and graduate college. We see people marry, and have children. If we pay any attention at all we notice the relative absence of meaningful rituals to affirm the significance of these events.
We neglect imagination in general, men especially. What is the price we pay for that?