Life can be a crazy, unpredictable rollercoaster ride of change. In all the frantic business of life, even a normal day when there are kids, work and home to juggle, the little sometimes seemingly unimportant rituals become the things that keep feeling us stable and secure. The coffee before breakfast, reading to kids at bedtime, a morning exercise routine, weekly movie nights: the little mini traditions that provide a sense of calm and certainty in a manic world. Jonathan Field, of the Podcast ‘The Good Life Project’, calls these rituals ‘Certainty Anchors’. In his book ‘Uncertain’ he writes “A Certainty Anchor is a practice or process that adds something known and reliable to your life when you otherwise feel you are spinning off in a million different directions”. It’s the same concept as the age-old belief that children like routine and structure to help them feel secure: the same applies to adults. Apparently, having a ritual and routine also improves creativity: following set routines in everyday life can mean that all your creative juices can be saved for when it matters. Barack Obama apparently wore the same style and colour suit for his entire Presidency, so that he wasted no creative energy on the mundane, saving it for bigger, brighter things than simple outfit choices. It’s not about being boring, or stuck in the mud, but about appreciating the value of ritual. In a family, the rituals and traditions surrounding both daily and yearly events (like Christmas) help to cement bonds and create strong memories, craft a sense of belonging, and often are the embodiment of the values that family holds dear.
The same can be said for Communities. Think Santa Parades, fairs, fetes and most important especially for Rural Communities, A&P Shows. A&P shows are crucial as a rural tradition, providing a kind of certainty anchor on a regional level that brings a whole district together. New A&P Presidents come on board every year in most cases, bringing their own flavour and ideas that help to keep shows fresh, relevant and interesting that are woven through the treasured traditions that include horse events, dog trialing, wood chopping and the inevitable Sturgeon Amusements (a tradition in itself, owned by the Sturgeon family since the 1930s) with their much-loved sideshows. With show season just about to begin (The Rangiora A&P show 20th & 21st of October, followed by Amberley Show on the 28th of October), we as communities need to throw our support behind the teams of volunteers who work tirelessly behind the scenes each year to pull these events off, usually on a shoe-string budget. Many shows have been close to folding in years past – even the Canterbury A&P show has had its financial issues. The only way they survive is by the volume of people going through the gates, so the best way we can support them is simply to buy a ticket and enjoy a day out. Embrace ritual, routine and tradition, because whether on an individual, family or community level, it is more important than we think.