When most people think of “traditions”, they’re thinking of society-wide customs and habits that become ingrained over years and generations. The holiday season is a good example, for it is stuffed full of traditions.
But traditions can be more personal and often, far more significant.
For instance, a personal tradition of mine is to step outside after the first snowfall of the season and listen to the silence the snow imparts and feel the crisp air on my face.
Why do I do that? I can only figure that it has something to do with the fact that the first snow I ever saw was when I was a mature adult, and had moved countries for the second time in my life. Three weeks after I arrived in Canada, I saw snow. The first snowfall was perfect: Big, fat, fluffy flakes drifting down for a few hours, then that magical, muffled silence…
Listening to the silence of snow has a powerful effect on me, reminding me of the power of change and how different one western country can be from another.
Another personal tradition of mine is taking place this weekend. Every year, toward Christmas time, I watch the full, extended edition of Lord of the Rings. I used to read the book every year, but once the movies came out, I switched over to a 13 hour marathon instead of a three-week one.
I don’t watch the movie every year just because I love the story. If that was all that brought me back year after year, I would have stopped long ago, for I can lip-sync the movie now.
No, it’s more complicated than that.
Lord of the Rings never fails to remind me of the power of hope, of courage and of valor. They’re simple values, and some would say they’re even old fashioned, but they’re good values.
The movie also reminds me of the power of good story-telling and gives me a milepost for next year’s writing. If I can move my readers the way Lord of the Rings moves me, then I will have reached one of my lifetime goals.
The movie also reminds me of the fallacy of perfection. It’s the eagles thing: There’s been more than one critic who has pointed out how everything could have been so easily resolved if the giant eagles had simply flown Frodo to Mount Doom, waited for him to do his thing, then flown him back home. Story done.
Yet millions of viewers chose to ignore that inconvenient logic and enjoy the story as it is presented. I’m one of them. Yet the eagles-thing is a reminder to me that art is often flawed, because artists and creatives are human. That doesn’t stop them from making powerful art.
What personal traditions do you practice and why? Have you figured out what reminders they provide? How do they serve you?
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