The New Year brings with it many things: fresh starts, physical commitments, emotional resolutions, and of course, the annual promise to clean out the front hall closet. For me, the New Year brings hot molten tin — as part of this weird New Year tradition that I count on to determine my fate in the year ahead.
Allow me to explain. You see, each year my Finnish-blooded family pays homage to our Nordic heritage by melting individual palm-sized pieces of tin over a fire in order to determine our personal fortunes for the New Year — a traditional practice the Finns call uuden vuoden tina, which literally means "New Year's tin." This kooky little fortune telling ritual actually dates all the way back to ancient Greece, but in modern times it's more common to see it practiced in Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, Norway, Germany, and Austria. Thanks to our Finnish grandmother (rest in peace), my American-born family has been melting tin on January 1 for decades.
So how do we do it? Well, one at a time each member of the family takes turns placing their personal piece of scrap tin in the dipper part of what looks like a long-handled, upright metal ladle. When it's my turn, I hold the tin-filled ladle over the fire until my tin scrap melts into pure, shiny liquid. This usually takes about three to five minutes. (I'd set an egg timer, but I've come to learn that the tin's good and melted once my right arm has gone completely numb. See: fire hazard.) I then remove the ladle from the fire and with a very quick flick of my wrist, dump the liquid tin into an ice cold bucket of water. Lo and behold, SCIENCE — the ice water instantly freezes the melted tin into a solid shape. I hurriedly retrieve my newly shaped piece of tin from the ice bath, and immediately start examining every nook and crevice, trying my best to determine what the shape is, and more importantly, what that shape may mean for the year to come, all the while not-so-silently hoping for money: Please let it mean money. For the love of sweet baby seal PARO pah-lease let it mean money. Mama needs a new month of rent.
While there are some guides as to what each shape means — a coin means wealth, a key means career advancement, a broken shape means bad luck — the interpretation is largely up to you, and only you. With that said, this is how my 2016 tin turned out:
I decided that my 2016 tin looked like a tree — an oak tree — an old, wise oak tree. And here's what I think that fortuitous tree-shaped piece of scrap tin has in store for me in the year ahead...
Rejection is a normal part of life. I know that, and between dating, work, writing, and just existing, I've certainly experienced my fair share of it. But this year, I'm seeing rejection in a whole new light. Rejection is a spotlight on weakness, and this year, instead of spinning my wheels trying to improve on weakness, I'm going to throw weakness to the wayside, allowing myself more time to focus on my strengths. Be strong like the oak grasshopper, but remember to bend with the wind.
There's this word in Finnish — a state of being that the Finns refer to as sisu. Having no literal English translation, I've adopted my grandmother's meaning, "tenacity of purpose." Good things do not in fact come to those who wait. Good things come to those tenacious enough to go out and get them. And much like the old oak tree, great things come to those tenacious enough to weather the inevitable storm.
I'm a Taurus, which means I'm stubborn to a fault. But I'm also loyal, which means that if I want to keep a certain someone around for the long haul, I'm going to have to tap into the wise old roots of the oak, check some of my rigid opinions at the door, and learn how to negotiate just a little bit better.
Running has always been a form of therapy for me. It's meditative. It quiets my mind, and over time, it makes me feel strong, just like the strong, sturdy base of that oak. And when my legs feel strong, my will feels strong, and when my will feels strong I feel like I can accomplish anything.
I've always said that my biggest fear is not facing my fears. As someone who's jumped out of planes, off of bridges, and into new cultures, I always figured that I was pretty good at facing fear. But as I've gotten older I've realized that what I truly fear most is being myself. Not being yourself is exhausting, and I'm tired of being exhausted. It's 2016. Perhaps it's time to live more authentically. Perhaps it's time to plant some roots.
Looking for more holiday cheer? Check out Bustle on YouTube.