La rentrée

La rentrée. While many of us use various religious and secular New Year time periods as stakes in the ground for reflection, life changing decisions and resolutions of one sort or another; the French have la rentrée in September.

It really is a concept that is aimed at the kids going back to school (unlike the back to school sales and specials in the US, UK and elsewhere—including France) but in true French fashion is philosophical and designed to provoke thought.
Not being Berlitz and always looking for the simplicity in things – think of as if you are an astronaut returning to Earth after a long (5 week) sojourn in space. As the capsule “re-enters” Earth’s atmosphere and as you prepare to put your two feet back on good old terra firma, your amazing experience collides with the mundane everyday facing you. Yet, you have unique and astounding encounters to ponder that no doubt will help the shape the future – both long and short term.

While the concept originated around returning to school (makes sense, given the French passion for education and philosophy) it has been co-opted by many and as the work force returns after its summer vacation, it is a time for many to reflect and plan.

Personally, I kind of like the idea. Even if you didn’t have summer – and much of the world didn’t; and even if you were not on vacation – and much of the world wasn’t; and even if you didn’t even slow down – and I know for a fact many of you didn’t – September is still a stake-in-the-ground month.

Having said that – at first glance it’s a rather vanilla month. Other than some bank holidays in the beginning and a tragic anniversary of modern times on the 11th, there is nothing special about September.

Yet it is a time when seasons begin to change; the countdown to the end of the globally accepted calendar year starts and we can feel the need to rev up, recharge for the home stretch and another new beginning in January.

I like the notion of a philosophical point in time to take stock – a 3/4 course correction if you will. We are committed – but still have room to maneuver – I really like that.

But September could be considered a time of mid-life – and I fear that many of us enter midlife crisis at this point. How will I finish the year? How do I get started and motivated again? How can I face another few months until the next big vacation…

And if it is a time for potential crisis we need an intervention and I suspect this is what the French had in mind when they concocted the concept of la rentrée which transcends age and time and locale.

Listen to this thought:
Turn your midlife crisis to your own advantage by making it a time for renewal of your body and mind, rather than stand by helplessly and watch them decline.
Jane Brody

And there you have it.
Note to myself – take this to heart….
Let’s hope that as we look around; at ourselves; our environment; our world – we won’t just stand by helplessly (or worse, as many do – hopelessly). Here’s to renewal…

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