Memories have a remarkable way of regurgitating at exactly the right moment for the very best of reasons. February 15th is quite plainly the day following Saint Valentine’s day. I cannot speak for all places but I well remember as a child being escorted by the females of my family to our local church yard, to lay upon the graves and memorials to the war dead the ever abundant cut flowers the ladies had received in tribute the previous day. Red roses were dually appropriate, firstly as the national flower of monarchy and nation, secondly being the color of the Flanders field poppy and blood-soaked bandages.
These floral donations were heartfelt, unheralded, poignant and wholly above critique from family, church, society, husband and beau alike. A simple act of remembrance for and in solidarity with the innumerable multitude of couples whose romantic aspirations were brusquely torn asunder by the unfathomable outrage of unconditional warfare. A memorial to a generation of unborn children whose untapped promise was lost to the universe eternally.
Some traditions are worthy of resurrection and eternal continuance.
When does habit become tradition? Perhaps the second time of repetition, perhaps the twenty-second, or when a peer or descendant takes similar action to honor memory or heritage. Habits can be good or bad, help or hindrance, can elevate or destroy. Traditions have the same advantages or detractions. Repeated mistakes are still errors, no amount of polishing will transform fecal matter into ‘Shinola’.
Habit morphs into tradition, tradition beggar’s ritual, that third subconscious stage leading to nail biting, a constant brushing of imaginary hair from eyes and less recognizably the unrealistic dependence on supernatural forces and influences with all the attendant consequences. Ritual develops ego, increases self-worth, but also engenders lack of independence and individuality. When performed in concert the effects of ritualistic activity increase exponentially.
I observe the last night of the London promenade season ‘religiously’, I use that specific term quite purposefully. Though my connection to the event is now purely electronic I gain much the same benefits as I did when I attended in person. The end of the evening finds me refreshed with unabashed ‘Britishness’, the essence that is there quite unapologetically promoted.
Habit, tradition, ritual are the stitches than construct the garments we wear. Be ever wary of the wardrobe you purchase and choose to employ, a uniform will equally make you blend into a crowd or stand very much alone.