It’s the National Geographic Year of the Bird. Just before I started writing this, a crimson rosella came and perched on the chair outside the back door. He chirruped and squeaked and whistled and I tried to imitate him. I don’t know what I said in bird language, but he cocked his head and listened before he flew off. Then he said something very loudly from the silver birch tree, so perhaps I offended him.
Recently it was Harmony Day. Then it was Neighbour Day. There’s a Walk to Work Day and a Talk Like a Pirate Day. Perhaps you’re allowed to combine the two. If you felt like whiling away a few hours, you could look up “National Day of” and “International Year of the” and you’d probably find that every day is the National Day of Something. When I mentioned this to someone, they said, “Why can’t it just be Wednesday?”
Interestingly (well, I think so) the United Nations is not having a year of anything this year. Usually it has a theme for the year, sometimes several. For example, 2016 was the UN International Year of Pulses. I assume they meant legumes, not heartbeats. 2008 was the International Year of Languages and the International Year of the Potato/Patate/Kartoffel/じゃがいも. That’s my kind of year. But this year the UN is going cold turkey. I wonder if it’s because next year is the International Year of Moderation and they want us to notice the difference between nothing and moderation?
To fill the gap left by the UN, I’ve decided to make up a few days of my own. Some of them celebrate small, daily things but some could be international and last all year. Here they are, in no particular order of importance.
Tarragon Appreciation Day
Oh, beautiful licorice-y aniseed-y herb with tongue-numbing properties, where have you been all my life? You are superb in scrambled eggs. Thanks to my friend J for the gift of both the tarragon and the eggs.
National Three Things for Dinner Day
While we’re on the subject of herbs, can I just say that gnocchi with butter and sage is the quickest yet most extravagantly tasty dinner you can make in under 10 minutes. I know there are lots of books out there on making things for dinner using not many ingredients, but raiding the fridge and surprising yourself is much more fun.
International Make New Friends Day
I was thinking a while ago that it can be quite hard to make new friends when you reach a certain age. Then two chance remarks in the tea room at work led to two new friendships, just like that. So let’s go big on this one. It should be international. Let’s be open to new friendships wherever and whenever they pop up.
International Appreciate Your Old Friends Day
I’ve moved house a lot, which means that many of my old friends live elsewhere, some of them very far away. But they’re still there. A letter, a phone call, an email, a visit when we can, these things keep the friendships going. And this year, which is a hard one for my family, I appreciate my old friends more than ever. It was a joy to spend time at Easter with old friends, to talk and laugh and loll about and be comfortable with each other. Thanks to H, M, M and Rufus the dog.
National Laugh Your Socks Off Day
Not all humour translates, so I’ve made this a national day rather than an international one. But now I’m going to contradict myself and tell you that I saw a very funny German film, Toni Erdmann, last weekend. It’s subtitled and it’s definitely not for children. It might not be your cup of tea, but I can’t remember the last time I saw a film that made me laugh so hard. Don’t watch the trailer, just let yourself watch the film knowing nothing about it except that it’s funny and goes absolutely nowhere predictable. Or don’t listen to me: go and watch anything that makes you laugh and laugh.
National Take the Anger Somewhere Else Day
I have a very crochety co-worker who likes to dump anger on whoever’s nearest. Unfortunately, that’s usually me. On the up side, this person isn’t at work every week. But their anger was starting to affect me and I could feel myself mentally wincing at the thought of going to work on certain days. So now I have a plan: take it to the gym. I can’t do that every time the anger is dumped on me, but I can do it on Mondays and Fridays and that’s good enough. Running it out on the treadmill or dancing up and down on the huffy-puffy machine (I think it’s a cross-trainer) certainly works. The anger slides off and doesn’t get in. I know there’s a whole post to be written on how not to accept someone else’s anger, but this is a quick fix and I recommend it.
International Daydream Day
There’s nothing wrong with a little daydreaming. Sometimes it leads to actual real-life dreams coming true. Sometimes it’s just a nice escape, a pleasant distraction. I regularly type the words “old church for sale” into Google to see what comes up and to start a little daydreaming session. When I mentioned this to a friend, she took me for a short drive down the road from her place to see this:
Now I’m in love. It doesn’t appear to have electricity or running water. The gutters are full of pine needles and it needs a new roof. Also, it’s not for sale. Even if it were, I probably wouldn’t have enough money to buy it. But that didn’t stop me from researching the price of septic tanks and electricity connection the next day. And who knows where the daydream could lead?
International Year of Fondness
I once sat on this bench with one of the most interesting people I’ve met, someone I hoped to know for a long time. The relationship didn’t last, which made me very sad at the time, but I recently went back to the bench and thought fondly of that person. So let’s make this an international day. It is possible for a broken heart to mend. Even if it’s cracked and bruised it can still be beautiful in a wabi-sabi way and you can think fondly of relationships that never were and of paths that were never taken.
International Legs Up the Wall Day
Here’s another one that needs to go global. Yes, it’s yoga, but don’t run away. It’s not hard. All you have to do is lie on the floor with your legs up the wall. Put socks on if you’re going to be there for a while, in case you get cold. You can do this in hotel rooms, in the office, in any tiny space where there’s a free patch of wall. Put your arms out like a cactus or have them resting gently by your sides, palms up, and relax. Just breathe. Cures jetlag. Soothes tired legs that have been standing all day. Helps you feel refreshed AND relaxed. Just lie there and do nothing for as long as you have.
That’s it! I’d love to hear about any national/international days that you’d like to create. And so that you have time to prepare, can I inform you that 2024 will be the United Nations International Year of Camelids. I know that governments around the world are pushing the idea of having driverless cars by then, but perhaps camels will be the alternative for those of us who like a slower pace (and don’t mind a bit of a smell and occasional spitting).