I attended a meeting today for graduation. I will be a marshal (yet, I get no badge -- how is that fair?), so there are additional duties I needed to know about. Graduation is already a step back in time to the medieval universities and their rituals and robes. Now I have additional complex steps within the ritual. Some marshals are banner-bearers, some student-herders; I will be a name-caller. The unpleasant scrutiny that "fame" brings (in this case, a faculty award is all the fame it needed), also carries extra duties and responsibilities. I will be visible in a public ritual, something I have usually sought to avoid. Middle child syndrome: always hungering for the spotlight, but inevitably uncomfortable in it.
I was struck by the gravity of the ritual, and yet the reluctant recognition that it could not be controlled. "Try to get the students to stay" was the theme, whether it was to get them in line for the procession or in their seats after the walk across the platform. And then there's the arena itself--keep off the grass! Minute Maid Park has to be maintained in game shape. What to do when rituals collide? No victory laps for the graduates; decorum must be maintained!