Success breeds imitation. Imitation makes convention. Convention is the sire of tradition. Unfortunately, tradition spawns purists.
All of a sudden, that’s the only way a thing should be done. Maybe the only way it’s ever been done, and it certainly shouldn’t change. If you try, you’ll be mocked mercilessly and perhaps given a stern lecture.
Only so many of us are going to trailblazers, men and women who, for a moment in time, grasp the reins of the world and give them a good shake, sending tremors throughout time.
After them, life boils down to so much meta-gaming. In an attempt to recreate that level of success, make boatloads of money or become as famous as true groundbreakers, we can imitate them. Don’t knock it, it works — ask Thomas Edison.
In trying to fit in with what works, we defy the creativity that enabled it in the first place.
If you’re lost, let me make it simpler. I like Woodford Reserve bourbon. It makes my heart sing like a princess in a Disney movie. Sometimes I like it in just a glass at room temperature. The purist would say nothing. That’s how it’s meant to be enjoyed. Add an ice cube, or god forbid, a bit of cola, and all of a sudden I’m going to endure the wrath of the traditionalist who says there is only ever one way to do things. How dare you waste such good bourbon on Pepsi?
Thing is, this kind of thinking makes no sense. You think papa bourbon, when he was out inventing his spirit, was constricted by it? No. Whiskey was unaged, used for medicinal purposes when it was invented somewhere around the 14th century.
People who decided to drink it for the first time were probably looked at like the man across the bar looks at you for pouring RC Cola on your Jim Beam: disgustedly.
The same goes for music. Rock doesn’t sound the same anymore. Just ask your uncle still driving that Camaro. Naw son, ain’t nothin’ like Lynyrd Skynyrd.
I’ve got some news for you unc. You might not like it. No one will be listening to “Sweet Home Alabama” before too long. They’ll be busy making new rock. You’ll hate it. You’ll howl at the clouds and get no answer. Things will change, you’ll die accepting them or not. Just like your parents hated how your generation changed Elvis’ music, just like how country music fans hate new country but can’t find a new Johnny Cash. He’s dead, and he ain’t coming back either.
The defiance of convention usually results in people doing things in a weird way for a while. It’s pretty quickly forgotten about, a silly little quirk mixed among the proper way of doing things. Every now and then, though, something new, wonderful and largely hated at the time will happen. It’ll get passed down. It will be changed. The next generation will declare it the best way, and then hate the way their children alter it.
Look, I’m not saying you’re setting a trend or being cool and unique for doing anything differently out of spite, but you’re also allowed to have a little fun, to shake things up a bit. You probably won’t grab the world by its horns and make it buck, but live life how you enjoy it, not by some silly little tradition that’s going to change anyway — no matter what your Camaro-driving uncle might say.
So go ahead, add a little soda to that whiskey. Be a little different. Hell, be a little strange. No one’s getting hurt, and most likely nothing’s going to come from it, one way or the other.
Or maybe you change the world. That’s this week’s small victory.