My uncle Svevo, who also happens to be my favorite person in the entire world, takes more joy and delight in the unexpected than anyone I know.
Whenever he visits Hoppy House, I know that he’ll bring along crumpled paper bags filled with marvelous and unlikely things.
A loaf of bread he baked on top of his pot-bellied stove. A toy chicken that lays pretend eggs. A ridiculously enormous supply of my favorite feta. Beeswax candles. Something he found in the woods that makes a good tea or an unusual snack. Like pine tips.*
Once — at a wedding — he gave me a toy car wrapped in old newspapers in a shoebox inside of a shoebox inside of another shoebox. The car was blue. The real present was in the trunk.
I could go on.
Widdershins! One of his favorite words.
Widdershins comes from the fantastic German word widersinnig (of course it does!), which means something like against common sense.
I think of it more as against the grain. Which is basically my uncle.
Widdershins means taking a course contrary to the apparent motion of the sun — or going in a direction opposite to the usual.
Yes. Going in a direction opposite to the usual.
It is also quite fun to say. Widdershins!
Like opposite day, only better.
When I go for a walk in the park with my uncle, he says, Let’s go Widdershins! Do you want to?
And we do. I didn’t even realize that I always walked around the park the same way, but it feels weird and awesome to go the other way. It’s brain-tingly. Same same but different.
Svevo told me that when he teaches P.E. (he’s a sometimes substitute teacher at an elementary school), the kids unconsciously run around the track or play their games exactly the same way.
He taught them Widdershins! And now whenever he teaches, they ask “ooh, can we please do it widdershins?”
It’s magic. I love it so much.
And like on Rally.
When we’re on Rally (Rally!), I am constantly reminding people about another useful phrase, this one in Hebrew:
Meshaneh makom meshaneh mazal.
It means: Change your place. Change your luck.
It means: when you change perspective, your fortune changes too.
In my experience, the people who struggle most with their projects during Rally are often the same people who don’t move around. They stay mostly in the same room, the same position, the same attitude.
When we flail the shivanautical flail, they’re usually standing in the same place and getting frustrated about the same mistakes (in Shiva Nata mistakes are what we’re going for).
It’s not always fun to mix things up. And of course, safety first — you don’t want to ignore your comfort zone.
But if you can change your perspective? Do it. Widdershins!
And like Pineapple Upside Down days.
Pineapple Upside Down days are what I call weekends.
I’ve been deep in the practice of Not Working Weekends for several months now, and it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
The thing that has helped most is not thinking of them as weekends.
Now I think of Saturday and Sunday as the days when everything is unlike how it normally is.
I take down the pirate duck flag (the Jolly Selma!) and raise the flag of Upside Down.
It is imaginary. And it features a carton of take-out with the invisible slogan Thai food for breakfast!
Not that that’s what I do. It’s just the symbol of Everything Is Different Now. How is this night different from all other nights? Etc etc. Widdershins!
You learn a pattern. You take it apart.
You use the new pattern to take apart the old one. But you can’t get too attached to the new one either because the next one will be even crazier.
It teaches you ADAPTABILITY. AGILITY. FLEXIBILITY. FLOW.
The things that are most important in life and in business.
Oh, everything is like this now?! Okay. Got it. I can handle that.
That is power. Accepting the new way, and also accepting that it won’t always be the new way. Good for the body and good for the brain. Widdershins!
And like yesterday.
I was rewriting the page about the September training.
Now known as:
The Shivanautical Academy of Hilarity and Play presents the most brilliant, fun and sparkly training ever!
And it was so damn hard.
I knew what I wanted to say but not how to say it, and I kind of … stopped believing that I ever could.
So I threw ten thousand panicking temper tantrums about how impossible it was.
But then I remembered about going the opposite direction.
Once I’m going an opposite way, it almost doesn’t matter in opposite of what.
I can start at the end and reverse-engineer. Or go randomly. Or tear everything up and start over. The point is, not in the way that I would normally go.
And it worked. Widdershins! Yes, I can’t stop.
Apply to anything and stir.
So. Comment zen for today!
Here’s what I would love:
- Many happy exclamations of Widdershins!
- Ideas, examples and stories about approaching things in an unlikely way or turning something around.
- I would also appreciate some rejoicing with me over having finished the page.
That is all. As always, we all have our stuff and we’re all working on our stuff. We own our stuff, and we’re respectful of other people’s stuff.
Love all around. And exclamation points. Widdershins!