Thursday, 7 January 2016

Motto For 2016

Lots of people, these days, seem to choose a word, or a phrase, as a kind of motto, or talisman, for the New Year. It's rather an appealing idea and I've been toying with a few. Some of them more frivolous than others.

I wondered first of all about taking a leaf out of Marie Antoinette's book - something along the lines of "Let me eat cake!" but that seemed a bit greedy and, actually, I intend to eat cake a-plenty whether or not I've adopted a cake-eating motto.

Next, I considered something a little more serious and dynamic such as "flow" - a lot of change, potential and actual, lies ahead this year and I need to be able to move with the tide of life, as it ebbs and flows. Not something I shall find all that easy, I suspect.

In the same vein, I considered "open" - both as a verb and a description of a static state. Opening doors and windows to move forward and to sniff the wind and the weather outside in a figurative sense. Being open and receptive to what the year and life may bring.

Both of these possibilities had the virtue of simplicity, being single words. I'm not sure why, but, simplicity notwithstanding, neither seemed quite right. And then H and I went to see "Bridge of Spies" on Monday. I saw it for the first time before Christmas actually, but it's still showing in Oxford, so going to see it again made a nice end-of-the holidays-outing.

There is a catch-phrase that comes up in the film - "stoikiy muzhik"* or "standing man" in Russian, with  associations of endurance, patience and persistence winning through against unlikely odds. I am not sure I am a natural "stoikiy muzhik" - I am too inclined to bustle and flit and let's admit it, panic!, but in an odd sort of way, the slight unfamiliarity, even strangeness of the concept makes more sense to me, on the threshold of this year than anything else. After all, there's no point adopting a motto that doesn't remind you to do things slightly differently from how you would have done things anyway. So "stoikiy muzhik" it is. I expect, as Russian is an inflected language, there's a feminine form for "standing woman" which would be more appropriate for my purposes but I'm afraid I have no idea what that would be.

* I have no idea either whether I've transliterated this correctly from what I heard in the film. If anyone, reading this, speaks Russian and can correct me, or indeed supply the feminine version, please do so!

It's perhaps not a very glamorous motto, I grant you. Even in the film, the phrase is originally applied to someone "who never did anything remarkable". But that unremarkable someone survived when perhaps otherwise he wouldn't have done and the lawyer to whom the phrase gets transferred in the film proves that being there; being yourself; waiting out the to-ings and fro-ings of events; refusing to blow with every wayward gust of wind; those things have a worth and value that it's easy to underestimate or overlook.

It's not a pretext for remaining static or failing to move on. That would be a poor motto indeed for handling the inevitable changeability of life, in this year or any other. But it is a reminder to keep faith when the ground feels unsteady or treacherous, figuratively speaking. It's a reminder to hold a steady course, rather than give up because there is a cross-wind or it has started to rain, metaphorically. It is a reminder that as human beings we are precious primarily because we are here, not because of what we achieve or even aim to achieve. It may of course backfire on me and I may find it helps me not a jot. But it may just find me at the year's end standing, like Tom Hanks on the Glienicke Bridge outside Berlin, with a certain peace of mind and heart and with more gained than I imagined would be possible. And that seems to me worth aiming for.

I doubt that 2016 will see me continuously display the serene aspect of my Russian matryoshka doll here, but you never know! Here's hoping!


Do you adopt a motto or word at the beginning of the year? If so, what's your chosen one for 2016?

Wishing you the best of health and happiness for the year ahead, 
E x











22 comments:

  1. I haven't yet decided on my word or resolutions for the New Year, life has simply taken over. Best wishes for 2016.

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    1. I nearly missed deciding on one too for the same reason but I told myself that any time in January is OK for setting goals for the New Year! Happy 2016! E x

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  2. I like the thought of you sitting considering your 2016 motto because I did just the same! It felt more appropriate for this coming year than a straightforward to-do list for some reason. I've opted for 'Make It Happen'.

    Here's to a wonderful year ahead and to both of us toasting our respective achievements come the end of it!

    Heather x

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    1. "Make it happen" sounds good! Very empowering! Wishing you all the best with that becoming reality as the year goes by. E x

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  3. An interesting choice. Go for it. So much better than trying to jump (and cling onto) the latest fad. This motto thing seems to have passed me by - maybe next year.
    Happy New Year.

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    1. I thought it would be quite easy to find something but actually it was surprisingly difficult to fix on something that I didn't feel would be past its sell-by date or I would have given up on by February! What was I saying about me flitting too much?! E x

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  4. For me it is this

    Onwards, upwards, positive, stronger

    and

    Let it go! xx

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    1. I like these a lot! I'm not very good at "letting it go" so perhaps I ought to adopt that for myself as well this year! Happy 2016, Amy! E x

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  5. After a ponder, I am thinking "courage." Julie is to have major surgery next week, on the 14th, and although the surgeon was reluctant to act, he and we all believe it is the right thing to make Julie's life more bearable. Please pray for a good recovery and God's grace.

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    1. Of course, I will, Nancy. And yes, courage is the name of the game - hard though it is to have always. Sending you a hug along with the prayers. E x

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    2. What an extraordinary thing to receive your phone call just now, Elizabeth. Thank you so much. Thank you for your hug, your prayers, and for lighting a candle. Blessings.

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  6. I think it is a great statement. I have chosen four words because one was not fitting just right, Peace, Love, Happiness and Abundance. I might add Gratitude.
    Hugs,
    Meredith

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    1. You're right - one word is not enough really which is may be why my other possibilities seemed to fall short. I like your choices very much. Especially abundance which I think comes naturally when the others are in place. Wishing you a 2016 with exactly that. E x

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  7. Dear E - I think with a move back to the UK imminent this year, my word would have to be Equilibrium. Balance in all things both physical and mental. If I can attain it, the next challenge will be to keep it until year end! Happy New Year and blessings for 2016. xxx

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    1. Ooh how exciting! You're dead right though - it's one thing to start off with good intentions but it's keeping them going as the year gets a bit older that's more tricky! Happy 2016, Laura! E x

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  8. I like your motto and the implication. My motto for this year is "be prepared", I would like to try to be mentally, physically, and financially prepared. (we had several minor emergencies of all sorts this year that highlighted some gaps in our readiness) I realize that I will never completely accomplish this goal - so I guess I won't have to think up a new one next year! ;)

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    1. A very good maxim! There's always something that catches me out however prepared I think I am for stuff so may be I should add "being prepared to encounter what I am not prepared for" to my maxim for this (or any!) year! E x

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  9. Hi Elizabeth! I haven't visited here in a while...life and all...but am glad to visit today and read your witty Ned thoughtful words. I too have been batting around a few words for the year...hallow, enchant, and surrender have been options. I wrote about the first two in my blog recently but not Ina way to declare them as this year's word. Another that seems to have more pull in my heart is...SPACE. Space to breathe. Space to ruminate. Space to hallow the moments. Space tone enchanted. Space to surrender, etc. I like your Russian phrase. It is truly freeing to disconnect from any pressure to do something remarkable and seems lovely to just be oneself wherever one is. I wish you a beautiful year of Standing Womanhood. It sounds much like our Native American names...names like Singing Voice, or Dances with Wolves (ha!), or Beautiful Maiden. Your name this year could be Standing Woman. It would be kinda cool to know what the Cherokee or Sioux translation of Standing Woman would be. Anyways...blessings to you!

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  11. I just saw this today. I guess I have been a bit preoccupied--and busy on a trip. I like your choice of "stoikiy muzhik" and think that the phrase is apropos for a veteran teacher such as me, an old war horse who stays the course, plodding along, trying to ignore the confusion and chaos in an environment fraught with challenges and confusion. I think, however, that my word for the New Year might be, "Jump," as I am thinking about making a radical and risky change, one where I would be giving up security in exchange for sanity! Anyway, I will keep you posted. I hope you and your family are well.

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  12. Reading your comment on Anne's blog brought me to your blog. You have a gift with words that I admire. Your last blog post is very dear to my heart. I loved the movie and it brought back memories of my own being in Berlin ( both parts) during that time.

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Thank you so much for taking the time to visit me at Mrs TT's and comment. I love to read what you write.