In yesterday’s email you may have seen this lead in:
“My aunt married a guy who cancelled their honeymoon when he found out he’d be traveling through the Bermuda Triangle.”
As ever, there's more to the story.
The same guy "saw" a ghost walking through his house and leapt up from the couch to find red string to tie around his sleeping daughter’s wrists to protect them from bad spirits.
Did it work?
Maybe it was a friendly ghost? You know, like Casper.
Maybe the ghost wanted to protect the kids? Who knows?
The red string was his tradition.
There are others.
Traditions survive because someone tells you and shows you.
You see a baby picture of yours and ask, "What's with the red string on my wrist Ma?"
Of course we know what really protects kids: Inoculations, smoke detectors, helmets, unconditional love and tolerance.
But red strings were around a long time before bicycle helmets.
So profound is the comfort of ritual of tradition that people cling to them for centuries
Which is why they can outlive their useful life.
Tradition is silent. It sneaks in, establishes itself and almost always gets recognized and named later.
At work, it's not usually called "tradition" but it has the same "this is how we do it" quality, even when most involved are thinking to themselves, "This is stupid! Am I really the only one who thinks so?"
But of course the surest way to be accepted into a community is, you got it, participate in their traditions.
Sometimes, to become who you are, you have to stop following tradition, because it may be taking you in a circle or up a stairway that leads to a ceiling.
That's going to scare some people who are used to warning-off evil spirits with red string.
Do it anyway.
The best thing you can do for your career is help someone else with theirs. That's a good tradition.