Breaking tradition.

It has been 21 days since my last post. When I logged into WordPress this morning I had to rattle my brain to remember my password. I seem to be going through another kind of transition that does not involve remodeling a condo or moving myself from one place to another.

Depth psychologist, Ira Progoff, created a journaling technique for looking back and reviewing one’s life. I went to a workshop on this and bought his book twice, yet was never able to stay with it. What I am finding, however, is that his technique happens spontaneously now, as part of being the age I am.

One chapter of the book requires a person to go back over their life and write down all the things they started but did not finish. In one of her Seth books, Jane Roberts said that we carry around fragments of lives that were cut short or aborted by circumstances. We start writing a story and then leave off to start another one.

In one of my last posts I wrote disparagingly about people who live in a more linear way than I do. This prompted me to think about how much trouble I have doing anything sequentially. I doubt that I am the only person who has this problem, yet I don’t think I have ever read anything about it.

Life is supposed to be a series of events that lead to successful outcomes. All effort is geared towards achieving “goals.” Society defines most of the goals and one’s family and school system reinforce them. By the time a child graduates from high school, it is hoped that she or he is sufficiently programmed to carry on traditions or live by a certain set of beliefs. Those who go on to become “well-adjusted” accept their traditions and inculcate their beliefs into their children.

I had a partner once who grew up in a town that had an auto manufacturing plant. Most of the people in the town worked in this plant, some for their entire adult lives. His brother followed the family tradition and went to work in the plant right after high school, but my partner chose to leave the town and get a Ph.D. in psychology.

This was my choice as well. I didn’t do anything my family did. I never found the requisite motivation within me to carry on any tradition. Instead, I have taken off down road after road without a map or a clear destination. My ultimate goal seems to be an unending quest to be somebody other than who I am, perhaps because who I am – a lone, wandering female – is considered deviant.

Historically, women were not given any training to be alone, or to be psychologically adventurous. We were supposed to “keep the home fires burning” by marrying and having children. Without our consent, we were pushed into being the transmitters of traditions we did not create. Women’s liberation has long been associated with equality with men, in large part because there is no women’s reality that men would want to be equal with. In fact, nobody even thinks about the idea of men being equal to women.

Yet despite this, I did not grow up wanting to be like, or equal to, my father or my brother. Neither of them graduated from high school, I have a master’s degree. Both have been married several times while I never married. They followed a linear trajectory supplied by their culture and I “deviated” from this.

Deviant – origin mid 16th century (as an adjective in the sense [remote] ): from late Latin deviat- ‘turned out of the way,’ from the verb deviare, from de- ‘away from’ + via ‘way.’ The verb dates from the mid 17th century.

A deviant turns away from the way. And what does this lead to? For me, it has led to finding a new order that is wholly my own. I make my own traditions and craft my own philosophy. I search for freedom in an unfree world.

As I sit in the space I created, or walk in the forest that greets me right outside my door, I finally know what love is. Now that I am an old woman I don’t have to play by someone else’s rules or follow any tradition. I can embrace aging as the time for me alone, unfettered from the mental shackles that previously kept me bound and silenced.

After years of studying patriarchal systems, Gerda Lerner said in one of her books, “The most important thing I learned was the significance to women of their relationship to the Divine and the profound impact the severing of that relationship had on the history of women.”

I think in some way, or perhaps in every way, my search is for this lost connection to, and relationship with, the Divine. For me, this has nothing to do with religion or the worship of something outside myself, but rather a recognition of the flame within that flickers faintly, like a candle moving mysteriously through a dark tunnel. I am something beyond the fragmented selves I see floating around me, something more profound than the narrow roads I have teetered on and fallen off. As I open a window and see the new buds growing on a tree, I know that this is what I am part of, the All That Is.

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5 thoughts on “Breaking tradition.

  1. I was just reading an article on Brain Pickings about Adam Philips who talks about all the lives that we have not lived and how that absence is part of us and it really resonated with me…and now this about the stories we didn’t finish…
    I have never lived linearly but more as a rebellion against a rigid structure than a choice and sometimes have felt frustrated by not being able to string parts of my life together with…something…but its good to read of someone elses take around the same issue. Thanks Rachael, another interesting post.

    Like

  2. Oh my. A friend introduced me to you via this post. I have a feeling this isn’t the last you’ll see of me. This touched something (many somethings) in me. Deeply. Thank you.

    Like

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