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A Word on Tradition

Originally written 21 December 2011...

Tradition (n): a long-established or inherited way of thinking or acting. (dictionary.com)

I've never been a terribly big fan of tradition. Few things in my life born of tradition mean something to me personally. Examples of those that do, however, include watching Harold and Maude every year at my alma mater's "Chili Supper," banging someone's head on the table to end club meetings at the sci-fi/fantasy club at uni, and dancing precariously on stadium benches while the trombones played in marching band are a few that come to my mind, and none of those I would consider to be even remotely vital to continuation of any of those activities.

So I stop to consider what traditions in my life are considered vital in whatever activity they may be a part of, and I come up blank. I can't think of a single tradition that cannot be removed from the equation without backlash to the actual functionality of the event.

And now I can't help but think that what is considered traditional is not necessary for human existence, other than as a nod toward what once was.

Now, I'm not knocking the traditional, of course. Many are well-suited for such paths in life. But I've never been a terribly traditional person. Not that I didn't try, however. As a child, I tried everything: sports, art, music, literature, dance...you name it. In school, I did my best in every subject. In music, I tried a wide variety of instruments. I did it all. And yet, when people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, none of those generic one- or two-word answers seemed to fulfil what I truly desired. I didn't want to be an athlete, artist, musician, writer, or dancer. And although I'd say things like astronaut, teacher, author, and instrumentalist, such traditional terms seemed to hold my imagination back from figuring out what I was actually destined to do.

But who says we can't do a little of everything? Who says we have to focus in one subject, in one field, in one area? Why can't we just do it all?

And once I realised the answer to that question (that of course we can!), I was freed from the limitations of tradition. No, I wasn't going to become an 'economist' like my dad, or a 'nurse' like my mom. I was going to continue to be what I've always been, and what I think we all truly and fundamentally are: a storyteller:

For me, that's a storyteller who likes to write poetry, shorts, and novels. A storyteller who likes to make films and video blogs. A storyteller who likes to daydream, and then make those dreams real. A storyteller who likes to read and lose myself in other worlds. A storyteller whose life is never limited by a single reality. A storyteller who refuses to let the world hold me back. A storyteller who never restrains those tales to a specific form, rather letting them roam just as freely as I do, and become what they're meant to be, just as I have.

We're all storytellers, really. We each take our little corner of the world and tell that story, primarily through action. What we do every single day of our lives adds to that story. Doctors save lives, scientists unravel the mysteries of life, entertainers provide the necessary levity and/or depth in life, and historians document the story of our race. Everyone plays their part, and everyone ought to make the call on what role they take in this story.

But this isn't a play. We're not being cast as characters on the stage of the world. It isn't "Photographer" played by "John Smith." Because who can fit their entire being into a single word? This is an ongoing epic tale of love, loss, struggle, success, and everything else that's ever flitted its way across this planet. And tradition doesn't have to limit what we contribute to the story. It's you and me, just as we are. It's the live and endless production of Life with an ongoing list of stars and no name to hold them back.

Now it's time to take the stage, take your cue, and run with it.

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