"Anything, absolutely anything, can be done ritually. Marrying, burying, birthing, and coming of age are not the only events of ritual significance. One can stand ritually, or sit, run and walk ritually — even breathe ritually. So ritual is not only a what but a how. If one cannot enact the more basic biological events (such as breathing, eating, or sitting) ritually, the ceremonial performance of high-profile social events will likely fail. It is a serious mistake to try constructing large-scale, once-in-a-lifetime or seasonal events without first laying a foundation in more familiar human routines — those sometimes denigrated as housekeeping details.

"Notice the domestic ritualization already going on in one's life — after-dinner walks, tooth brushing, bedtime stories, Saturday night movies — activities that provide order and predictability. After following and observing them, it can be revealing to amplify, play with, or stylize them. A simple act like drinking a glass of water becomes special when one pours the water into a wineglass. There are other ways to ritualize, of course. Elevate the glass; then drink. Or just drink slowly and deliberately.

"Two things can happen after drinking a special glass of water. One is that subsequent, ordinary glasses can taste bland, leaving one longing for the special. But there is another possibility: Ordinary drinking can become extraordinary, even without the wineglass or the toast.

"Ritual practice is the activity of cultivating extraordinary ordinariness. It is necessary, because human activity has a kind of entropy about it; life, like love, runs down. Things get tiresome and difficult. Body and soul cry out for something different, hence the impetus to ritualize. But if the ritually extraordinary becomes a goal or is severed from ordinariness, it loses its capacity to transform, which, after all, is what rites of passage are supposed to do."