Through the music
Through the spoken word
Through the splatter
Of colour on paper
Or wood or iron
But celebrate your life
Celebrate your ability to
Feel joy and sadness
Celebrate your ability to feel!"
- Tupac Shakur, The Rose That Grew from Concrete
Count your blessings
I feel we live in an era in which the power of celebration is vanishing. Instead of celebrating, most people look for fun or entertainment. Being entertained is a passive state, it is receiving pleasure or enjoying a prefabricated joy. Celebration, on the other hand, is an active state, a form of expression of gratitude, respect, appreciation. To celebrate is to give a deeper, or even transcendent, meaning to the moments and actions that shape our lives.
The constant comparison game in which we live in often prevents us from celebrating ourselves. It also prevents us from celebrating others. We all know that feeling of trying to invoke genuine joy at someone else's good fortune or achievement, when really we're judging ourselves for not having the same success or not achieving the same accomplishments. And that, in itself, is the focal point. How much do we lose because we don't see ourselves first? How much better could we be if we were taught, from an early age, to do it?
As I get older, I realize many people feel this way—in this ongoing search for balance. If we don't get to a certain place, until a certain moment, it starts to be a permanent and destructive frustration. But what is this right place or right time? Who invented all these rules? We talk a lot about being happy, about having the power of decision in our life, about being different and overcoming limits, but often, unconsciously, we return to the lie that hangs over all of us: that our life has to look a certain way so that we feel good about ourselves — and, consequently, about others. But when did life stop being an adventure of discovery and curiosity? When did it become unacceptable to question the status quo?
Social media, with all their added value, from the fact that they connect us to being an excellent source of inspiration, are also a platform that sells images and ideals that, in most cases, are not ours (nor anyone’s…), rather references and clichés of happiness. The image of the perfect life ends up making us believe in the “lie” of others, forgetting our own reality — which, even though it’s not perfect, is real and unique. We must celebrate each other more and more often. Without being so worried about capturing it for later sharing it. The real pleasure of celebration comes from within, not the other way around.
We must celebrate the small victories, even if it’s not the final one. A friend of mine had the habit of never partying because, as she couldn't predict the future, she didn't know if what looked good at one moment wouldn't be something bad later on. When she opened her small atelier, she didn't celebrate her first project, because it was still too early to celebrate, it could go wrong.
There is a Spanish saying that goes “and now let them take away what we have danced.” With age I learned that we should go on celebrating what life brings us, even the little things, especially the little things. After all, they are what make life so special.
Translated from the original on Vogue Portugal's Celebrate Yourself issue, published february 2022.