Anne turned 30 years old on July 17th, 2020. Her friends wanted to celebrate in a way that wasn't just a party, but gave her space to think about how to enter a new decade of life. They asked me to create a ritual in which the various relationships in her friend group could come to expression, in which they could voice what they appreciate about Anne, and in which Anne could explore her desires for her new decade. I interviewed Anne and her friends in order to create a deeply meaningful custom birthday ritual. This ritual consists of three games for Anne to play with her guests.
🌳 PERSONAL VALUES
Polyvalent Relating: enjoying the distinct ways of connecting with each individual while remaining aware of the group/networked context
Meditative Reflection: sitting with a recognition of the rich emptiness of life, resisting the need to react or shape anything just yet
GAME 1: Tracing Connections
In the interview, Anne expressed that she has different vibes with all of 6 guests she has invited to her birthday ritual. This game provides non-verbal insight into the character of those connections. Game — The Way You Touch Me Players are divided into pairs based on who knows each other the least. Each pair approaches Anne, sitting on either side of her. She begins by looking at the player on her left and touching that person in a way that expresses how she feels about them. While looking at the person on her left, she mirrors that touch with her other hand on the person on her right. Then she stops, tunes in to the other person and switches the roles. This happens until all three pairs have cycled through the game.
GAME 2: Voicing Appreciations
Anne also expressed that she would like to have people say nice things about her. In order to make this less perfomative for her guests, and to give her the space to soak in what each person wants to say, we modified an existing game from the Human Systems gamebook. Game — Partial Presence (Turbo Appreciation Edition) Anne lies down on the floor blindfolded in a comfortable position. The rest of the guests form a circle around her. For five minutes, they put their hands on various parts of her body (2 people on head/shoulder, 2 people on arm/hand, 2 people on leg/foot) when they feel present with her. When they don't feel present, they lift their hands up. Players do not attempt to be present, just to notice when they are and are not. After the five minutes are up, a bell goes off, and the players continue. They are now allowed to speak out appreciations they have of Anne, one by one, popcorn style (in no specific order). This continues until everyone feels they have said what they would like to say regarding how they appreciate Anne.
GAME 3: Exploring Desires
Finally, Anne wanted to cultivate a space of vulnerability to speak out desires that might otherwise go unsaid. For this, we created a special game for Anne to be able to listen and speak to desires and what might get in ther way. Game — Beyond Expectations Anne sits up in the middle of the circle and removes her blindfold and is given a book to write things down. Everyone else closes their eyes and concentrates on things they would like to do with or for Anne. When a clear desire forms (in the moment or in the future), that person forms it as a sentence in their mind. Then they speak it out. Any time a desire is voiced, Anne takes time to search for expectations that she feels she has or is subject to that might get in the way. She voices them. No one replies to anything Anne says. Anne is also allowed to voice any desires she has in the moment or for the future and expectations that might get in the way. No one but Anne replies to anything.