copacabana beach in rio de janeiro

Tributes for 2016 and the Goddess of the Sea

The humid streets of Rio de Janeiro have a new addition today: flower peddlers. Roses and long stemmed flowers–maybe gladiolus flowers–in red, pink and white sit in buckets at every street corner. Tourist and locals alike barter with the peddlers on their way to the beach. These blooms are tributes to Yemanjá, goddess of the Sea. In the Afro-Brazilian culture, Yemanjá–sometimes spelled Iemanjá–is the goddess of motherhood and in Rio, she is the center of a New Year Eve tradition where thousands of people dressed in all white, jump seven waves and then toss their newly purchased flowers to the ocean in the hopes to winning the goddess’ favor and having their wishes for the new year granted.

This morning, I sat on Ipanema Beach and considered what my hopes for 2016 are, and I recounted all the blessings I have enjoyed in 2015. Though I won’t turn this post into a Christmas-letter, I will share the two most important things that I learned this year:

  1. I am the captain of my fate, the master of my soul. I may have borrowed the words, and I may have believe them at a surface level for years, but 2015 was the year that I tried to name the life I want and went in search of it.
  2. Celebrate the imperfections in life. Take every annoying detail, every heart shattering reality and even every blindingly awkward situation and celebrate it. If not celebrate it, at least make yourself laugh at it. “We’ll laugh about this later,” is not just a sitcom cliche; it’s a reality. Because, in the string of life’s moments, it’s often the moments of imperfection that we remember best, that define us, and we should enjoy them with equal vigor as we do the moments that play out exactly at we intended.

I will cast my desires for 2016 into the Atlantic Ocean for Yemanjá’s blessing with the rest in Rio; I hope that you cast your own hopes out into the world and (unless your wishes are granted by a sea goddess, a deity or a lotto number) do something great for yourself in 2016.

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