28 December 2008

Manic Monday - Tradition

It is impossible for me to see the word "tradition" without thinking of the opening scenes from "Fiddler On The Roof". I've seen the show live three times, in the original big screen movie release, several times on TV, and bought at various times both the tape and DVD. Of course, the whole musical is about tradition lived, given up, kept to take with you and when necessary left behind.

My favorite musicals are about people tied to places, other people and the whole idea of home: Les Miserables, Ragtime, and of course Fiddler. The happy, witty shows are fun, but I love the ones that at some point make me tear up or at least want to cry, perhaps because I have always been homeless ... not houseless, just homeless, unless a whole state can be considered "home" rather than a town in it. If Jean Val Jean sang, "Bring Him Home" for me I would be dropped off at the airport.

Most people have home towns. Even if as adults they leave and never go back, it is the place they were raised, spent years, knew people and often are still connected to. Just to figure out where I was when, I have to write down the years and actually think of who with, doing what in order to remember where. Awhile back I wrote that "Any Place I Hang My Hat Is Home" was my theme song.

Cross the river, 'round the bend
Howdy stranger, so long friend
There's a voice in the lonesome wind
That keeps whisp'ring, "Roam!"
I'm going where a welcome mat is
No matter where that is'
Cause any place I hang my hat is home

The end result has been a lack of tradition. On the plus side, I never do anything because "that is the way it is done", strangers aren't strangers just people I haven't met yet, and change isn't frightening just different. On the downside there is a rootlessness to almost sixty five years ... people and places that I know, but nowhere that I totally belong just places I've lived.

That is the big gift of tradition within the family and from there the community. Everyone within a tradition have shared beliefs, history and experiences. It can be stultifying and limiting at times or supportive and comforting in its familiarity. The trick is to know what to celebrate and keep and what to leave behind as you move into the future. In the end that is tradition. The ones you've kept. The ones you've left behind, and the new one's you've created to pass on to another generation who will in turn do things because it is tradition, and "that's the way it has always been done".

Be sure to visit Mo at the Manic Monday site to join in on the fun.


carol g said...

I just spent the last 3 hours watching - again - Fiddler. I just love Teviah's talks with God. And I am still awed at how this movie clicks with today. My piece on tradition is not nearly so thought provoking. Thank you again, oh wise one... :o)

anthonynorth said...

Fiddler is a great musical, and you're right about traditions of home. I returned 'home' about 4 years ago after most of the previous 3 decades spent away. The comfort of tradition hit me as soon as I returned, and I felt I still belonged.

Polly said...

Your final paragraph about knowing what to carry on and what to leave behind is so true. If the whole human race could master that, every generation would be better than the last!
It's good to see that we posted the same video. I am joined in my love!

Desert Songbird said...

Sometimes we get bogged down in tradition or family rituals, even when they become meaningless. I think being without tradition opens new possibilities, don't you?

maryt/theteach said...

I feel similarly to the way you feel about tradition. I have to be careful because I question all tradition and lots of people respect traditions without questioning. I have rejected a lot of what was once traditional in my religion and culture. I look for the new rather than the "tried and (not necessariy) true." :)

maryt/theteach said...

Love your new header, Jamie! Is it the Library of Congress? I've never been there... My new header is from the Internet - I don't know where it is...

Linda said...

"If I were a rich man ..." or woman in this case then maybe I would actually be able to go out and buy a home of my own and start my own traditions there but alas, I am a renter and as such subject to moving at least once again during the course of my life.

Like yourself I was never in one place long enough to call it "home" per say as my Dad was career military and we moved every two years then I joined up myself and continued to move.

My current residence has actually been my address for the past 8-1/2 years which is a true miracle as I have never ever lived anywhere for that amount of time. It rather boggles my mind. It also makes me anxious and itchy to move again being that I don't own the place and there are things wrong with that my landlord is not attending to. But, that's for another day perhaps.

Perhaps your tradition was to be a nomad of sorts and to traverse different areas and meet different people so that your own horizons could be broadened even more.

bv said...

I love Les Mise and wanted to cry reading that if you were Jean Val Jean you would be dropped at the airport but then I thought about it and we all have our own story.

I love your story (this particular glimpse)and I really love these lines that you wrote, "I never do anything because "that is the way it is done", strangers aren't strangers just people I haven't met yet, and change isn't frightening just different."

Happy MM!

My Autism Insights said...

Ah, good one!