Tradition is a funny thing. Defined as a belief or custom handed down from one generation to the next, each tradition in any culture, any community or family is something that too often is followed without reflection as to why it was adopted in the first place.
It is with the event of my birthday today that I’m contemplating the topic of tradition because it is with milestones in life that traditions tend to emerge: birth, marriage, graduation, etc.
Recently, I finished reading Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn for the umpteenth time, and I couldn’t help but be drawn to the blindly kept traditions that the feuding Grangerford and Shepherdson families continue to hold on to even though it breeds perpetual hatred, anger and fear. But, that as it may, it brought comfort because it was what they knew so they remained steadfast.
Adhering to a tradition or a belief simply to hold fast to something we know because we fear what may be if we let go and allow it to evolve, is a cowardly way to live. Such a blind allegiance stagnates growth and improvement in society and more importantly, in ourselves and our relationships.
History has proven that had many traditions not been broken we would be living in a very different place, and while this alludes to very grand traditions, there are traditions that we as individuals are a part of that we may follow without realizing we are doing so, or doing so because we don’t want to rock the boat.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not making a blanket statement here and saying all traditions because they are traditions are bad, but I encourage us all to examine why we follow the ones we do, and if they are in keeping with our values and our stance of living up to our true potential, then by all means continue to observe them.
I speak today of those traditions that don’t sit well with our souls, with our idea of how our honest and contentment focused life should be lived.
Last year I shared how I had spent a previous birthday, and I can honestly say that creating a unique way of celebration my milestone birthday was something I am so thankful I did. By stepping away from tradition, I chose to be true to who I am. The need to focus on gifts has always left me rather empty, so I chose to do something that would focus on what I valued, and in a way, I created my very own tradition, one that I will always cherish.
And that is what I believe tradition should be, something that causes a spring of beautiful emotions that enhance your life to be felt, instead of blindly going through the motions because “that’s what people do”, or “that is what my family does” or “everyone would laugh at me if I celebrated how I believe I should celebrate”.
Traditions are events that should be treasured if they add value to our lives, if they are tied to what we value as important because there are a beautiful way to connect us to the past if the past is something we want to perpetuate, but only if it allows who we are to shine and not be hidden.
One example comes to mind regarding a lady I know who instead of being married on the traditional day of the week – Saturday, she and her groom chose to exchange vows on Thursday. A seemingly very simple tweak, but one that spoke volumes about them as a couple.
The tweaks can be large, the tweaks can be small, the tweak can eliminate a tradition entirely or change it just enough so that a person’s voice can be heard. Whatever traditions you follow in your life, take a moment each time you are about to participate and be conscious of why you are doing them, and be sure you want to own your actions. Because our actions, our decisions each day, dictate the course our lives take – so put yourself in the driver’s seat.