ISSUE #12: Celebrate!
We took a break during the weekend of the US elections, and here we are, back with an issue on CELEBRATION!
Watching the news on how many people in some parts of America cheered in the streets to celebrate a new President-Elect, and with both of us experiencing a couple of joyous events, it led us to ponder more about what it means to celebrate.
Who we take ourselves to be shape how and what we celebrate. So, grab a cuppa coffee or a glass of apple cider, clear some space, and join us in our exploration.
Article // To celebrate or not to celebrate, that is the question.
Daryl examines his aversion to large celebrations and makes a new resolution.
Article // I am, therefore I celebrate.
Rosslyn inquires about her idea of celebration through the lens of ritual and honor.
Food for Thought
A Slice of Life
Wishing our American friends a happy, warm, and nourishing Thanksgiving holiday!
Rosslyn & Daryl
ARTICLE // by Daryl
To celebrate or not to celebrate, that is the question.
I’m uncomfortable with excessive celebrations. There, I said it. I cringe whenever I witness celebrations that are over the top, or too effusive in praise, wondering to myself what could actually merit it? On my part, I prefer celebrations that are low-key and intimate. It’s more meaningful that way, and I don’t need a circus to accompany every little success I achieve. Isn’t it sufficient that I celebrate by spending time with my nearest and dearest? At least that’s what I tell myself.
But last week, a conversation with Rosslyn made me consider more deeply my reaction to celebrations. Why do I cringe when others want to celebrate in a way that goes beyond what I deem intimate? Is it really true that I value intimate celebrations so much and that’s why I shy away from those of the rowdier and livelier stock? Well, yes and no. On the one hand, I really do treasure the intimate settings when I celebrate those I love. I’ve always believed in focusing all my attention on those who deserve to be celebrated, and making it a grand affair somehow detracts from the dedication of the celebration since everyone’s attention is simultaneously pulled in so many directions.
Yet, when I was honest with myself, I realized part of my aversion to grand celebrations stemmed from my subconscious belief that very few things deserve that level of attention from everyone. It’s how I’ve always operated, preferring not to make a fuss over something I’ve achieved. I mean, even Rosslyn displayed more excitement than me at the news of me passing the grueling comprehensive exams I studied day and night for. It all felt like a blur to me when she asked me how I would like to celebrate, and I probably mumbled something along the lines of just having a quiet dinner together. Playing down my success is the comfortable thing to do. However, by the same token, this probably also meant that I would not have fully acknowledged my loved ones’ achievements when they, in all likelihood, deserved it.
The irony of my reticence is pretty thick. One of my most admired virtues is Greatness of Soul (taught by my boy Aristotle, of course.) From the moment I realized what Greatness of Soul is all about, I’ve been trying to cultivate it as much as I could. For all those not in the know, a key characteristic of a great-souled person is his ability to know his worth and acknowledge it with neither shame nor embellishment. The great-souled person does not brag because it’s the overstatement of one’s worth and it means stretching one’s self out towards things he doesn’t deserve. This much I’m with him. After all, I really don’t feel good about taking what I don’t deserve, and bragging is a vice that often leads one to appear buffoonish when exposed. Definitely not my cup of tea since I value honest to goodness substance. The irony, however, becomes apparent when it comes to the other opposite: the small-souled person who excessively underplays his worth. When I think about the times I shied away from openly and proudly celebrating my achievements, I realize I’m displaying smallness of soul. To think that in my journey to cultivate my most admired virtue, I have actually strayed from the right path. Why do I not embrace my achievements and worth especially if I deserve it? I mean, I surely did not attain them through dubious means so why am I so hesitant to publicly acknowledge them? I suspect it’s the Asian upbringing I’ve had where modesty and humility are two of the most precious virtues. “Don’t brag. Don’t show off.” While these are good pieces of advice, they fail to show us that there are appropriate moments and situations where it’s more than alright to revel in the glory of our successes. There is such a thing as excessive humility, and it’s as much a vice as arrogance since neither are authentic expressions of the self. Proper humility is recognizing what is properly deserved while the excessive strain leads to the denial of everything good about the self due to some anxiety, perceived or otherwise. Everything in moderation, Aristotle would say, but that means being neither excessive nor deficient. Instead of being overly cautious out of fear of offending someone, I should authentically accept that my achievements do deserve recognition.
I guess this is a timely lesson to learn. I’m approaching 40, which means I’m about halfway through my earthly sojourn. It’s about time I start celebrating all my loved ones with the recognition they truly deserve instead of trying to play it down. I don’t want to regret not showing them the overflowing love I have for them simply because of my shyness. It took me more than a decade to realize this but I’m ready to take the first step towards honouring those who truly ought to be properly honoured.
ARTICLE // by Rosslyn
I am, therefore I celebrate
Since pushing my book out into the world, the notion of celebration has been one I’m sitting with. What does it mean to celebrate one’s self? How does one celebrate?
I’ve been through many celebrations in my life, and fortunately, enjoyed a fair share of my own. Mostly, we head out for some nice food, a sumptuous meal outside our usual fare. That’s how my family generally does celebrations. It tends to revolve around food. Dress up, head out to a restaurant (pretty but not too fancy), feast, and head home.
A celebration, according to what I found in the dictionary, involves performing a rite to honor an occasion.
So, in my case, heading out for some good food was the rite that was performed, right? As much as I appreciated that manner of celebrating, something still didn’t sit quite right with me. I didn’t feel like I’ve truly grasped the spirit of celebration. There was a hollowness.
A rite was performed. What about the honor?
Truth be told, I rarely celebrated myself. I didn’t know how to. I knew not what honor meant, much less what it meant to honor myself.
In my past life working in creative agencies, whenever I was promoted, I kept it to myself. A good day at work, I kept it to myself. A compliment from my client, I kept it to myself. A new job offer, I kept it to myself. The email will go out; my boss will make the announcement; keep it going, let’s not be complacent; new chapter, the hard work starts now. My mind came up, quickly and relentlessly, with plenty of reasons why I should just keep to myself and not celebrate. “Hush, don’t brag,” shame used my speed and resourcefulness against me, corrupting my ideas of humility and modesty.
I did not see the need to celebrate. After all, I was just doing…my job.
Do I have a better idea of it now?
Maybe. Yet another art to be learned.
Learning the distinction between celebrating an outcome and celebrating a person, learning what honor is.
My dear friend taught me through her own way with her regular generous reminders of my awesomeness. “You are awesome. And even if you didn’t have the book, you are still awesome.” She witnesses my journey of unfoldment. She celebrates both the outcome (my achievement of publishing a book) and me (for being me, for showing up as me)
We often celebrate achievements but how many of us celebrate the journeys we go through, the challenges we undertake to get there? How many of us celebrate our persons in our full courage and power and perseverance to brave through every day?
Honor is made possible through witnessing—being present to receiving the magnitude and gravity of another’s being, expression, and deed.
How do I honor myself? Surprisingly, it could be as simple as allowing myself to squeal in joy when I rejoice over the kind words I’ve received from others. It’s about seeing and acknowledging myself.
It starts by noticing the little things, and taking a pause to mark them. A big treat is not always necessary. What’s needed is a recognition, a nod from myself to me, a pat on my own shoulder.
I celebrate not just for publishing my book, but for my audacious attempt to even try. I celebrate not just my transformation, but for the Self that was possible with the friends I’ve made in my life.
I celebrate today, for I’m gifted another day of miracle to be here.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
In Daryl’s exploration, his view on celebrations is tied closely to worth. If you know your worth, you will be able to celebrate in a fitting manner.
In Rosslyn’s inquiry, a celebration is a form of honoring, which is essentially seeing the other not as an object, but a subject. We not only celebrate the outcome or the deed, but also the person and her/his journey.
After reading both of these articles, what’s your take on celebrations?
What do you celebrate in life? How do you celebrate?
What are your experiences when it comes to celebrations of others and of yourself?
How do you relate to your experiences and what do they inform you about yourself?
POETRY // by Rosslyn
the universe knows our secret,
popping confetti, ready to party;
wispy shades of pink strewn
across the sky, as we're about to fly.
A SLICE OF LIFE
In the spirit of this issue’s topic, we want to share some good news about ourselves. They’ve been mentioned in our articles, but we want to formally share them here.
Daryl has passed both his comprehensive exams (first half) and his German language exam. Hurray on his painstaking daily labor since summer. Kudos to this fantastic feat!
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