I do not like tradition

This is the time of year when many people struggle. Christmas is hard for those who are lonely and the New Year is even harder. It’s sad that people have to go through this every year, but I wonder if many more people suffer to a much lesser degree.

I am lucky. I have 2 children and a wife who love me, at least they say they do, and so I should be looking forward to the above 2 events with gusto and with positive anticipation. But I don’t. I do not like them at all and the same applies to Easter and Halloween as well. I like birthdays because they do not feel as though the whole world is joining in, but not the regularity and conformity of annual events that we all ‘celebrate’.

It is not the events themselves, but the fact that they occur each year without fail and that they feel largely the same regardless of who you are with or what you are doing. We meet up with family and friends and find ourselves thinking back to what has happened over the past year, and in my case I always feel as though I have not achieved enough. It’s a reminder of failings and my own self doubt that I would rather avoid.

Maybe it is a desire for something new to happen all of the time. I see people I work with take comfort in the mundane repetitiveness of their jobs. They don’t like change and would be happy with almost the exact same things happening every day. Of course this does not apply to everyone I work with, but I am in a place where the majority display that tendency to hide and be left to do nothing extraordinary every day.

Some of these people seemed to also enjoy their Christmas celebrations which sounded awfully dull to me, and this is what made me think about writing this piece. I don’t mean to sound like a miserable old sod, I am reasonably happy under the surface, but as I get older I become more aware of events that repeat every year and how they do not fundamentally change.

The desire for new things to happen often is likely not unusual. I try to speak to someone each day whom I have not spoken to before, I search out new reading material and I am always thinking of new projects that will be interesting and fulfilling. But ultimately I remain wondering why so many people enjoy the traditions we celebrate every year and why that does not bother them.

Happy New Year.

Thanks to Tom for the above video.

16 thoughts on “I do not like tradition

    1. One thing I forgot to mention is that tradition and holding on to older traditions seem to be a lot stronger in the US from what I can see.

      1. Oooh, you’re right about us here on this side of the pond. We look back more than we look forward. Maybe it’s becsuse we have less history to make traditions from? 😉

          1. Similar to Brexit. A hankering for older times alongside the belief that the current situation needs to change and that everything before was better. He tapped into that and I guess tradition is related because it always goes back to previous times.

          2. Dang, comment got lost.
            For a while I’ve heard self-deprecating comments from, say, Brazilians that they’re not quite in the “first world”, though not quite a developing nation “Brazil is the country of the future , and it always will be!” is their mantra.

            Sometimes, with our religious fundamentalism and anti-expert/anti-cosmopolitanism biases (and our guns, guns guns) I think the USA is in the same boat, but facing the past rather than the future.

            https://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/the-old-days puts it well.

    2. I think it does bother them – at least some of them, but we feel pressure to always be positive. When I feel this I try to see wonder in the world. I take a walk or do some photography where I see the intricacies of things. That always fascinates me. But to the holidays, I usually feel a let down from them as well. Sometimes I manufacture the magic as best I can. But usually I just ignore the celebration or middle through. A common solution I hear others say is to volunteer or do something for someone less fortunate. I seldom do that, but when I do I feel a lift. I know I’m not directly answering your question, but I can also see that it’s easy to get into this kind of funk about ourselves. Again I go back to what a wonder life is, and I try to plug into something creative or something that makes me feel alive and connected. Go pet Murray and marvel at the excitement he sees in the ordinary.

  1. Yow, potentially deep and dark topic- Like a cloud covered night sky and it’s not so easy to see the stars.

    I guess more than the “same old every year can be bothersome” aspect itself, the “annual reminder that I’m not achieving enough” is a rich vein to ponder. In this existential universe, there’s no worthwhile external judge of “what’s enough” – but it sounds like maybe your inner judge is working hard, probably too hard. (Remember: our genes are out to make discontent with the status quo and always strive for something more – there’s no evolutionary reward for achieving a cheerful equanimity, but learning to do so can be critical to our emotional health as beings who can transcend our genetic heritage.)

    For me it’s tough to come to grips with I’ll never achieve some of my childhood goals, for fame or creativity. I would like it if the message in my mortality essays and comic made a bigger mark, because I think they legit help some people, But you know, I did what I can, I had a good time. There’s no ambition and goal for myself that I could meet that would bring satisfaction in and of itself…

    For some reason it makes me think of this passage from “The Epic of Gilgamesh”

    “O Mighty King, remember now that only gods stay in eternal watch.
    Humans come then go,
    that is the way fate decreed on the Tablets of Destiny.
    So someday you will depart, but till that distant day Sing, and dance.
    Eat your fill of warm cooked food and cool jugs of beer.
    Cherish the children your love gave life.
    Bathe away life’s dirt in warm drawn waters.
    Pass the time in joy with your chosen wife.
    On the Tablets of Destiny it is decreed
    For you to enjoy short pleasures for your short days.”
    –Siduri

    Ok, maybe even a little darker than I meant!

    My frustration with Christmas in particular is the amount of stuff I get, and give. In this consumerist society, with a middle class family that’s pretty comfortable, it seems well meaning but ritualistic, and everyone gets stuff that might be nice to have but almost by definition they could live without.

  2. This is a “too much” topic, just like the holidays it discusses. So just a few, hopefully short, comments.

    Shaun mentioned looking back and wondering if we could have done more, or were we a “success”. Natural enough. But we’re looking back with all that added information. That’s why they call it second guessing. I have the same feelings but ask myself whether I feel that I made the right choice at that time given what I knew then. Also I know that often we are reactionary creatures, some more than others. We react before we think. That’s not a failing, much as I wish it were so that I could correct it, but just who we are.

    As for the people around us who just go to work, go through their day without making waves or looking for anything new, I saw that early in my working life. One of the best decisions I made was to think “I don’t want to be like that” and I did something about it. Basically switched careers.

    I’m not a big fan of the “holidays” but I love giving gifts to my grandchildren. and since it’s mainly twice a year (Christmas and Birthday), Grandpa doesn’t spoil them too badly. My brother and I long ago stopped any major gifting.

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