No Show* // Ritual

No Show* // an exploration of the human condition

NO SHOW* Trend Report



To kick off our 2018 No Show* series, we explore curiosities around a topic that is both intimate and communal in practice: ritual. Over two sessions with leaders representing perspectives from the fields of technology, transportation, education, journalism, visual art and architecture, we dove deep into the role of ritual in generating meaning for our lives and its impact on our changing world. We gathered social change strategists, leaders in transportation, design experts, mindfulness entrepreneurs, architects, artists, and journalists, asking:  

// How do we understand ritual in the 21st century?

// Why do humans seek rituals? What role do they play in demarcating our humanity?

// How do we cultivate meaningful rituals for our personal and professional lives?

// How do we see ritual changing in the future?


Through a curated dialogue, we shared our personal and professional experiences with ritual, and investigated how it shapes the human experience. From describing intimate family rituals to interrogating cultural norms, we arrived at the following insights:

Ritual is the heartbeat of culture—and the arrhythmia of it.

// Ritual connects us to others. Communities are formed by ritual. The act of coming together to celebrate or mourn brings us together across space and time. How we gather, and at what frequency, defines our sense of community and family. It symbolizes who we are and who we hope to be in the future. Ritual can mark sorrow, celebration or serve an elemental need (e.g., the annual harvest). Our collective rituals become a cultural signal, to ourselves and to others, of what we stand for.

// Ritual cultivates a sense of safety. The daily, weekly or annual practice of ritual generates a sense of safety as it allows us to anticipate the familiar. The creation of ritual speaks to human’s desire to return to something known, often laden with memory and comfort.  

// Ritual connects us across time. Ritual connects us to the past, grounds us in the present, and is a marker of our aspirational selves. In this way, ritual has a multidirectional quality, linking us to generations past, and continuing legacies into the future. Humans hunger for this, a connection to our past, to something larger and more meaningful than our singular lives.

Ritual defines our values. More often than not our rituals are deliberate choices rather than traditions to which we subscribe. Our choices to engage in daily, professional or familial rituals indicates our human longing for meaning and deeper purpose, a trend we see most prevalent in more recent generations.

Ritual harmonizes us across time and distance. Ritual is an inter-generational thread to spark connection with family and  community.

For Future Consideration...

When rituals cease to exist. Changes in culture, climate and technology all have the potential to alter or eradicate rituals we take for granted today. How we reconcile the rituals we’ve practiced in the past with the ones we will come to know in the future will be determined both by our agency in regard to the ritual and, in turn, the strength of the ritual itself. Which rituals in our lives are at risk of changing or disappearing?

Bring more ritual into your life...

  • How might you incorporate weekly ritual practice into your work life? How could it shape your relationship to your team and the work itself? Does it create a legacy of meaning a community?

  • How can you use ritual to connect with loved ones across time and space? How does a gesture like honoring a deceased relative annually on their birthday translate their legacy to future generations?

  • What rituals do you choose to incorporate into your life, and which ones were predetermined for you? Is there a difference between the two? Does the agency to choose make those rituals more meaningful?

  • What do you know about your parents’ or grandparents’ rituals? How might you connect to their practices today?

  • Which rituals do you want to pass down to future generations? Imagine someone practicing that same ritual 20 years from now. What values remain?


*No Show is a collaborative project by Gershoni Creative and DIALOGUE, where we gather diverse minds to explore the human condition. We aim to use No Show as a space that grapples with issues central to society in hopes of building a more connected, caring, and innovative future. Additional insights on each topic to follow.

Ariel Cooper