Ken Keller ~ View 1

Episode 11: Rituals

part of: The Shadowed Ones

by Jeff Beardwood

Related by Daegle, Member of the Shadowed Elite in the Fourth Generation of the Wanderers


Just when you think you’ve become comfortable with the weirdness of your own life, some new twist comes along to knock you off your pins yet again.
Take me for example…none of the other terrorists I know have such complicated lives. (Or maybe they do and I just don’t notice.) Okay, I say that very tongue in cheek…the extraordinary within the extraordinary…but it’s kind of true too.
Forget the huge chain of influences which led me to this cause…something I do believe in deeply (Katia was certainly right about that). Even forget the extremely unlikely incident that led to Katia and me crossing paths. Let’s just accept all that as read and look at the future.
We’re going to meet in person now!
I have a very strange feeling in my gut about this. Clearly it carries great weight. But there is more here which I can’t untangle. Perhaps it is because this is unfolding on so many simultaneous levels.
My original curiosity about Wanderers is still there. The more I learn, the more fascinated I become. Of course that is only compounded by my personal curiosity about Katia. On top of that, add the strange element of her community’s involvement. I am self conscious to meet the people important in her life, knowing she has told them all about me.
Ah, what about my community? Have they not asked me to get as close as I can to these Wanderers? I fear this is part of that “one last mission” they have promised before our pod is disbanded. I was greatly relieved when no last minute instructions came from Maere in our final phone conversation this morning. Honestly, if the call comes for me to lead some kind of suicide mission against Katia and her family, I don’t know where my heart will rest. I do not fear death, only the turmoil of the choice. I could be imagining the whole thing. My recent isolation from my pod confuses me. In the case of suicide attacks, the opposite is usually true. They are usually embraced, honored, sustained by their pod. So, the direction of this last mission is a puzzle. It could be for mere leverage. It could be a matter of learning about these Wanderers. I still worry that it’s more.
Instinct tells me this may be the largest part of my current uneasy state…that strange feeling in my gut. I’ve noticed it has started to take on physical manifestation. Sometimes, of late, I have felt quite ill. Surely my body is trying to tell me something.
So in the hours leading up to our meeting, in the midst of this chaotic melange, how do I begin to make sense of it all?
We all have our little rituals we rely on. In such unfamiliar territory, I was surprised which rituals I fell back on. I first caught myself as I looked into the mirror, shaving. A tight knot of nervousness nestled in my chest. I fussed over which hair stands where. This is a grooming ritual! Not only that, it is one closely associated with dating.
My how our rituals reveal us to ourselves!
In the midst of swirling uncertainty, this was what my psyche clung to…the attraction. The music I played stroked my heart, enticed my libido. The act of grooming was the busy work that grounded me. My mind raced over my stories…the things I rehearsed saying over and over gearing toward a most practiced spontaneity. I was doing all that I could to ensure that when I got there, I was “ON”.
Our rituals reassure us, and provide comfort.
They teach us if we are observant, willing to learn.
They grow with us, ideally.
How well was this ritual serving me? It was comforting, familiar. It took the edge off my nervousness. Perhaps though, the problem was the script. Perhaps what I need is not to be “ON”, but to be centered…be myself…let there be fear where there is fear. I took a deep breath as I took one last look in the mirror. The sprinkle of early grey hairs and the sparkle of blue eyes, they were all mine. I felt better than I had in some time.
I wondered what rituals were taking place in the Wanderer home today? Quiet meditation? Cooking…ah the complex rites of cookery would almost certainly be playing a role in their day.
So many times I had tried to put myself in their place; wondered what questions haunt them about me; imagined my reception; how many would be there; how big a role her clan would play in the evening….
Well, I guess it is about time I found out!