This post may not qualify as a typical “Nature is Nurture” excerpt, but I’ve toyed with writing the story for several years and I believe it is fitting for the New Year – especially for those of us that may have experienced loss and are looking forward to a brighter future.
As with every year in our lives, there are good and bad experiences. There are gains and there are losses.
I’ve lost two close family members to unexpected deaths within the past 24 months. Mourning must run its course as I learn to embrace and honor my loved ones’ memories. Their lives meant, and still mean, more to me than I can articulate. If your past year included such a loss or losses, strive to be ever so gentle with yourself in the coming year as you, too, will learn to live life fully again, but with a new “normal.”
Well, there are other losses some of us may have experienced this past year, such as jobs, homes, friendships, and/or marriages. In no way do I wish to minimize the validity of feeling sad and depressed when experiencing the loss of one or more of these tangible items. However, I truly believe some of these losses may indeed be cause for pause and reflection. This is where I’d like to begin my brief, but poignant, New Year’s Eve story:
Six years ago I divorced during Christmas week. I did not initiate the proceedings yet I ended up being the sole partner reporting in front of the judge that deciding day. The judge hit his gavel and said, “Divorce granted. Merry Christmas.” The divorce was devastating to me in more ways than one. However, at the time, I did not realize it was the marriage itself that was the true devastating force upon my life.
Having endured Christmas week as a self-labeled newly divorced, middle-aged woman with tons of loose ends to tie up, I was not looking forward to the New Year, let alone celebrating New Year’s Eve. In fact, I had planned to have a quiet night alone contemplating how I would eventually furnish and repair my empty, damaged home (another story for another time, perhaps.) Instead, at the last minute, I accepted an invitation from a very kind woman I had met indirectly at work. This woman exuded positivity and enthusiasm and had an awesome zest for life, although her family had also experienced divorce that particular year. She had invited a varied group of people in age, marital status and ethnicity to celebrate the New Year together in her home. We honored traditions, danced to a variety of music and partook of delicious food and drink from several cultures that evening. It was by far the best New Year’s Eve I had ever experienced in spite of my depression over my divorce.
During one especially festive dance that night, in which we were all hand in hand, a child accidentally struck and spilled a glass of red wine onto the light carpet. My mind instantly went into auto-pilot as I sucked in my breath and ran to the kitchen to find a cloth, all the while spontaneously coming to tears. I feared yelling, belittlement and very harsh admonishment for the child. I also expected the host would become irate and the festivities would surely end. I was prepared to leave.
Not so! The attendees broke into applause, yelled “Opa! Opa!”, and danced even more feverishly – they didn’t miss a beat! They congratulated the child for the spill of wine as it meant “Good Luck” to all present for the coming New Year. They celebrated an occurrence that would have without a doubt been cause for an evening of hostility and tears in my former life.
I am forever grateful I accepted the invitation that night to celebrate the coming of the New Year as part of a caring and wonderful, multi-generational and multi-cultural group. This remarkable gathering of people taught me there is a positive side to most everything in life if you choose to look for it – and – there is no sense in crying over anything spilled! The significance of their celebratory reaction to the spilled red wine brought to light I was indeed mourning the end of a very unhealthy relationship – a relationship that should’ve ended long before and one which I should be oh so grateful wasn’t entering the New Year. Needless to say, I cultivated a refreshingly new perspective on life that New Year’s Eve of 2006.
No matter the losses you have experienced this past year, I hope you realize you have the power to place yourself in kinder and gentler environments and surround yourself with kinder and gentler people.
In the coming year and beyond, my wish is that you stay ever so close to the people, places and things that truly nurture you.
Happy New Year!
In my research for this post, I learned in most European cultures (especially in Italy) it is considered Good Luck to spill wine as it is symbolic of the ancients giving thanks by “sharing” a bit of the fermented bounty with the soil of the vineyard that produced it. http://www.schonwalder.org/Menu_Wine_TheBestofaMistake.htm