Growing older is a surreal experience. The thing that I am constantly challenged by is how unexpectedly different I feel in comparison to how I thought that I would feel at this age. I don't mean physically, but as I watch my goals become achieved or morph, relationships grow or wither, children develop, spouses change, and time passes, I find myself constantly evaluating where I have been, where I am going, and what I could be doing differently. What is most surreal is the feeling of not knowing the future while inspecting the past -- all while traveling on a ceaseless conveyor belt. This is not anything new or unique to me, of course, but it is not how I thought that I would feel at this age. I would have thought that life would have been more stable or structured as opposed to contemplative and fluid. There is no mountaintop to ascend, only a journey to experience.
What I find to be a grounding force in this fluidity is tradition. When I consider my past it is the traditions that have become beacons signifying importance, value, fun, and generally above all, community. These are things that have become part of my fabric, both as a member of a community and family, as well as an individual.
As a father, now, there is no greater embodiment of the passage of time than watching my children grow and develop. They literally are changing before my eyes. It isn’t the slow change of a 30-something adult, but an astonishingly quick ascent of marker lines shooting up the doorframe. I feel a sense of urgency to impart what little wisdom I can offer and provide traditions for my boys to use as grounding forces when they are my age.
I am likely feeling particularly sentimental about all of this due to having just celebrated the holidays with friends and family, who -- as previously noted -- are a core part of traditions. Holidays are clear-cut tradition factories that help bring people together to share not only the event occurring, but also the memories of the event from years past -- and other times spent together. They are simultaneously stabilizing factors as everyone can recall memories from before, while generating new memories with new generations.
So, while I traverse my way across this journey, I am thankful for the traditions that have been created for me, as well as the ones still being developed. They ground me. They help me feel connected and at the end of the day, there is no better experience in life than being connected with those around you.
Bemus Point, NY - FUJI X-T1
I like to consider hand-me-downs a tradition.