So I went to the Winter Carnival in Quebec City and it was truly a joy and a delight.
There were ice sculptures, human foosball, sledding, a zipline, a crazy parade, an outdoor dance party in the middle of the night, and tons of bundled people of all ages walking around in snow pants and huge boots and mittens. Sooooo much fun to just play play play and be around celebrating people.
The mascot or ambassador for the festival is a fellow called Bonhomme (from the phrase for snowman - bonhomme de neige - or so I am told). Bonhomme is jolly, with a big smile and squinty eyes. He wears a red hat on his head and a multicolored sash around his waist. And for some reason I felt an enormous and instantaneous connection with this character. I cannot even describe it, sort of half fan mania and half déjà vu or something? It was maybe a feeling of long-lost kin?
My friends on the trip knew of my feelings for Bonhomme. Actually, we were going crazy during the outdoor dance party and suddenly a couple of the people in the group were pointing behind me and yelling. Yes, Bonhomme (who had been dancing on stage earlier) was passing through the crowd behind us. "Go go!" they yelled, and one friend even pushed me along through the crowd as I tried to get closer. But I guess I was not the only one. Hordes of people chased after the snowman mascot like he was some sort of celebrity. It was a little surreal. Unfortunately the crowd was too thick, and Bonhomme was quickly packed into his white van by his bodyguards and whisked off to the afterparty - or wherever VIP snowmen go post-winter-carnival.
It is sad, I never got to have my picture taken with him or even touch him, because he was always too far away or surrounded by too many people, but I did end up getting one of those sashes and I think I might treasure it forever.
All these strange feelings left me wondering: why did I react so strongly on such an instinctual level about this character?
After a couple days now, I think I've figured it out. He reflects a part of me that I suspect I may have been neglecting recently. The joy of being alive. Even though life is tough sometimes, even though it often feels we're stuck in a state of perpetual winter, Bonhomme is the part of us that can roar in laughter or jump up and down in delight anyway. I should know myself by now to recognize that I truly do find joy in remarkably simple things, and I think I have been failing to nurture that quiet joyful Katie-child. Bonhomme says No no no, whatever you do, whatever happens, always nurture that joy. Sit in your snowpants on the ground for a moment after you have fallen and just laugh. Go sledding. Smile at a stranger. Find delight in balloons and dancers and maple syrup.
Yes I think that is it.
Thank you, Bonhomme.