A Weltanschauung of Joie de Vivre

My students the other day thought that there was a mistake on their vocab list, someone had forgotten to translate a French phrase into English, though the Korean was given–it was déjà vu. When I told them it was just a French phrase that we use in English, they weren’t particularly happy. Anyway, I couldn’t not have a title in English, French, and German when the French and German are also just used in English sometimes. If you need a translation, the title is A Worldview of Joy of Life.

So I had a lovely Christmas weekend. Saturday started with serving at a homeless kitchen-type ministry with some coworkers and finished back at the Kelsey’s for our work-friends Christmas party. We had a great time making pomander balls, playing games, making cookies, and doing Disney karaoke. They’re just really great ❤ On Sunday, I went to church and had a white elephant party with them afterwards, it was a lot of fun.

On Christmas day, I essentially did nothing, which was exactly what I wanted. I called my family and chatted with them for a while, and that’s really it. I mostly stayed in bed; I read, watched Netflix, and played Pokémon. Not exactly how I like to spend Christmas generally, but exactly how I wanted to spend it this year.

Going back to work on Tuesday was less than ideal, but I managed. This week is just another pretty much normal work week, and next week will be too, though we also have the incredible gift of having next Monday off too! Speaking of which, I have some meh-level New Year musings for you.

I think I’m slowly becoming aware of a shift in my worldview that’s taken place over the past few years. I’ve given up not just on changing the world (in any big, big ways) but also on just expecting the world to be a good place. The world is a pretty unpleasant place. Yes, of course there is loads of good in it as well, and many things are better than they were in the past (though we must never confuse ‘better’ with ‘good’). Let me be clear: I still hope for good in the world, I still hope for change. But I’m done thinking that things will improve, that people will learn from their mistakes, that knowledge and kindness and compassion will  increase and someday prevail. They might. Maybe.

All I have is me. I can expect things from myself; I can certainly expect failure, but also growth. I can educate myself–about current events, racism, ancient Egypt, different varieties of dogwoods, how to make pancakes from scratch. I can attempt, with perhaps childish naïveté and diligence, to suffuse my life with a Weltanschauung of joie de vivre that does not derive joy from the world because it is joyous, per se, but because the world exists at all and every moment of that existence is a literal miracle.

I can teach myself to be kinder; to rescind hurtful words with genuine apologies, to think critically while watching movies, to sincerely care when other people tell me things that give them pain.

I can involve myself with the world; I can serve, I can donate, I can educate, I can listen respectfully even when others are not being respectful, I can have compassion on those who have no compassion for me.

I can be myself; stay home as much as possible, read voraciously, watch good and bad Netflix with equanimity, thoroughly enjoy food even if it’s boring, be awkward and laugh about it, be gay and fabulous, wear bowties on Tuesdays ect. ect. ect.

There’s a certain joie de vivre (if you’ll excuse the phrase) in the exultation of releasing my expectations about the world. It’s like that old line about accepting things I cannot change. When I’m free from all the weight of the world, I can deliciously and leisurely enjoy the simple pleasures of each moment and find it in myself to compassionately and earnestly become involved in bettering the world.

The above may have ended up sounding super self-centered, which is counterproductive so please bear in mind, if it sounded like that, I didn’t mean it to. Anyway. You know that I’m not much one for resolutions because a. we should resolve any and every time not just New Year’s b. people don’t generally keep them anyway c. they’re pretty lame. So let me be clear.

I want to be better, and I will work hard to become so. I want the world to be better, and I will work hard to make it so. I have few illusions about the success I will meet with, so I’ll start small.

And as for all the rest, I’ll act in hope without expectation.

Alakazam, Gengar, Vaporeon

Guys, this is my fortieth blog post. Like, we’re coming up on a year. Can’t handle it. Anyway, first things first. My sister left on Monday, so I’ll give you a brief review of the last few days she was here and such like.

On Friday, we spent a lovely day in Dún Laoghaire, a seaside town that I’ve written about before. It was supposed to rain, but didn’t and was actually pretty sunny most of the day. The wind was kind of killer, but. We just sort of walked around, obviously got some ice cream at Scrum Tiddley’s. Went to the National Maritime Museum which was cute in a childish, sad sort of way. On Saturday, we walked through Phoenix Park and toured Áras an Uachtaráin (ARE-us ahn ookh-tah-RAHN) which is to say, the house of the President of Ireland. Then we went to Glasnevin Cemetary and saw cool grave markers of some important people, but mostly unimportant ones–or, I should say, ones largely forgotten by history. Sunday, we didn’t do much really. We took a slow walk through the park memorializing World War I, a very peaceful conclusion to her visit, I think. Anyway, I saw her onto the bus to the airport on Monday afternoon and here we are.

Tuesday was my first exam invigilation day with a short, small set in Regent House, a lovely room over Front Gate. It met all my expectations of being exceedingly boring but nothing really to complain about. By far the highlight was the Environmental Science student with a little Gengar figurine on his desk, presumably for good luck. Since Gengar is my second favorite Pokémon, I hope he does really well. The other three exams were two law classes–one on the French constitution and the other on the French Civil Code– and econometrics. Yay for me not having exams.

Also, headline in the Irish Independent I saw yesterday: “Mini Heatwave to hit Ireland this weekend after the coldest April in decades.” Of course, an Irish heatwave means that temperatures will ‘soar’ up to 22 C (about 70° F) in some places–the average high in Dublin for July is 20.2. This after spending part of the afternoon reading (for pleasure) in the sun on campus. Pumped, but a bummer my sister missed out. Alas. For me, though, it’s going to be great. Reading in the sun is one of my all-time favorite pastimes. There’s something really special about it. And, as someone who grew up (and continues to live, apparently) in a place where reading in the sun is a very restricted activity (by weather not policy), I deeply appreciate it whenever I can partake. Also, I’d love to not hear about how the weather’s been in Gig Harbor. I know, guys. I get it. You’ve had some sun. Some rain too, but way more sun than we’ve had. I don’t want to hear about it.

And finally, on a totally unrelated note. As last week concluded the monthly poetry posts (for a while, at least), I thought I’d try something different for May. Each week, I’m going to list ten songs that I’ve listened to and enjoyed, without commentary, so that you can get to know my tastes a bit. I encourage you to give them a try. You’re most welcome to react to them (in any way you see fit) but I doubt that any raging diatribes against a particular choice (or choices) will forever alter my taste in music. Perhaps a better tack, should you disapprove of my choices, would be to simply suggest alternatives. Anyway. I have pretty wide-ranging tastes but in the past year or so have started to identify a sort of style that I particularly like. The only genres generally that I don’t like are rap and country, but even there some good songs are to be found. I’m also going to refrain from including choral/instrumental music and songs from musicals because most of you already know I’m real into that and I want you to know that there’s more to my musical inclinations than what my elementary school (and even middle and high school) friends almost unerringly referred to as “opera.”

This is just another way for me to share me with you, so whether or not you like these selections, you can know that I do, at least. One way or another, here’s the first installment.

  1. Barcelona – George Ezra
  2. Birds of a Feather – The Rosenbergs
  3. Имя 505 – Время и Стекло
  4. War of Hearts – Ruelle
  5. Style – Taylor Swift
  6. Classic – MKTO
  7. Electric Feel – MGMT
  8. Cosmic Love – Florence + the Machine
  9. Nothing – Ji Nilsson
  10. Losing My Mind – Charlie Puth