The French culture is always teaching me something I had not known, and upon learning it, I find myself saying, “Now that makes sense. What a great idea!”
Such was the case when I recently learned while reading Janine Marsh’s blog The Good Life France that saying Happy New Year (Bonne Année) is not to be done until the new year has actually begun. Until then, it is typical to hear the greeting, Bonne Fin d’Année (Happy End of the Year)!
The more I contemplated the word choice and intention of the traditional phrase, I began to realize that often the tendency is to look ahead, to jump to January 1st and the New Year, but in doing so, we miss something else to celebrate as well: all of the events of our story that unfolded over the past 12 months.
Perhaps this tendency is a reflection of the culture in the states to plan and look to and dream about the future, which is not at all a bad practice. After all, that is how dreams are achieved. But so many of our dreams have been achieved in the past – big and little – that are a part of our lives right now. Enjoying having these dreams come true, why not savor them, celebrate them and feel truly rich in goodness knowing tomorrow will come, but today, we celebrate today’s existence? This current year’s occurrence.
To be present with the year that was and still is for a few more hours (as I type this, there are 20 more hours left in 2018) is to sit with the year that was, give it its due, absorb the lessons, pay gratitude and be reminded that being present is a worthwhile and on-going life improvement practice. Because so long as we are always looking forward, we are, in a sense, not fully content with the now. And understandably, if the “now” is uncomfortable, sad or even dire, it is no wonder we would want to move on. But the lesson in being present for the undesirable moments or years is to recognize that they too shall pass, so long as we learn the lesson, so long as we celebrate if it is a loss that has happened that was heartwrenching, so long as we ask the question “why?”. And even if the answer isn’t readily available, in the asking, we discover what we treasure, what we hold dear and what we will give our full attention in the new year.
I have been talking with my mom about 2018 during our latest visit over the holidays, and it is my habit to look for analogies which assist me personally in better understanding the life lessons. Granted, the analogy is never perfectly congruent, but it provides the dialogue to delve deeper into seeing the silver lining of difficult situations or fully appreciating the goodness of the awesome ones.
From equating the hairy eight hour drive home I made last year from the holiday vacation to the sun-filled, traffic-light, journey home this year to an omen for the realization that no matter how long the journey takes, arriving at one’s desired destination is possible and something to celebrate and often improves with time, patience and persistence, I enjoy seeing life as a puzzle that most definitely is solvable. All of the pieces are in the box. Not one has fallen on the floor or was accidentially left out all together. And even if one happened to escape (puzzle pieces have legs you know ;)), there are many others that will fall into place with my focused attention, so that I can see and appreciate the beauty that has come together.
Perhaps each year of our lives is a puzzle, a puzzle that has options regarding how quickly we work on it, but eventually it comes together so long as we understand the skills of living well in a manner that permits our full potential to come forth. The key is to understand how to travel as we work on our puzzle. Succcessfully traveling well simply comes down to understanding how to attain contentment which indeed can be experienced each day of our lives as it is something we find within ourselves. (below are a few posts and episodes that explore this topic in detail)
- The Importance of Finding Contentment, episode #181
- From Seeking Happiness to Cultivating Contentment: A Shift in Pursuit, episode #162
- How to Cultivate Surroundings for Everyday Contentment, episode #219
- Why Not . . . Cultivate Contentment Today?
Having just stepped outside to greet the day with Oscar, I discovered a dusting of freshly fallen snow brought its magic to town. The air is calm and crisp, almost as if it is encouraging one more day to snuggle in, reflect, appreciate, and be with 2018. Tomorrow can be for the dreaming and celebrating of the new year.
Speaking of January 1, 2019, rest assured, I will have my resolutions. I will have a detailed breakdown for myself, so that I can envision how to reach my goals, but most of those goals are a direct result of assessing, reflecting and adjusting where this current year has led me and what it has taught me.
In other words, celebrating and honoring la Fin d’Année.
~Similar FRENCH-INSPIRED and NEW YEAR Posts You Might Enjoy: