Neltiliztli is a word from the Aztecs and is their philosophy for living a worthwhile life. It means rootedness. It’s the reason I’ve chosen my 2019 hashtag, #rootedlife. I want to do things this year to live a more rooted life. First, a few paragraphs on last year’s hashtag and then, the scoop about what it means to live rooted, based on that Aztec word.
My hashtag for 2018 was #becausehappiness. Generally thinking, it felt like a pretty happy year, in spite of life (like unexpected household costs and auto repairs). But, my goal wasn’t to be happy all of the time. That’s unrealistic. Especially home with kids who stick a McDonald’s gift card in the Wii, cry during the night because they’re scared that their closet door is open a wee crack, or put a lot of effort into poking and prodding and irritating the other sibling as much as possible at those moments when I’m already spent because I just dealt with cat puke. #becausehappiness
Instead, my efforts were more along the lines of trying to live after a manner of happiness. (2 Nephi 5:27) I did my best and thus, I count it a good-enough year.
On to Neltiliztli!
I learned about this term reading an article called, “Life on the slippery Earth,” which went into great detail about this Aztec philosophy. Here’s my bullet list version for your enjoyment:
- The term means rootedness
- Living a rooted life means to manage your mistakes well, not try to avoid them
- The reward is a promise of a worthwhile life
- Focus on the virtues of moderation, justice, prudence and courage
- To choose virtue means to follow the middle path, strike the mean (tlanepantla)
- Our actions are virtuous when aptly expressed
- Moral education is ongoing
- Look to others for advice and listen most to practical experience (ixtlamatiliztli)
When we focus on the middle path and choosing virtue, our lives are worthwhile. Also, we need each other to travel safely along this “slippery earth” (tlaticpac). We aren’t perfect. Far from it. We slip up no matter our virtues. I like these sentences specifically from the article:
Wisdom in human affairs consists in the recognition that the best that we can do is to learn to stand with the help of others, to alter our circumstances for the better, and to clasp hands so that we can pull ourselves back up when we fall. This is the fundamental insight behind the social dimension of Aztec ethics. As challenging as it seems to ‘Western’ sensibilities, perhaps there’s enough that’s right about it to help us lead better, more worthwhile and rooted lives.
The Aztec’s philosophies differ from those of Western culture, as mentioned in that quote. These “sensibilities” referenced come from the words and thoughts of Plato and Aristotle. I studied these in several of my classes in college. I couldn’t possibly give you a good, brief summary right here. Instead, here’s one of the comparison’s from the article: “While Plato and Aristotle were concerned with character-centered virtue ethics, the Aztec approach is perhaps better described as socially-centered virtue ethics.”
As I read about the Aztec philosophies, they hit home. They tie in to my concern that my children will have others in their lives that they can turn to, like I did, when they don’t want to go to a parent. It relates to my thoughts about “companion planting” in my life to supplement it with good people. And it ties in to how I turn to others to build me up, for my “health regeneration“.
This year, my hashtag is #rootedlife. Here’s my plan for learning to do this a little bit better this year:
- Love myself when I make a mistake, small or big (positive self-talk)
- Write some lists of what makes my life worthwhile (gratitude)
- Find moderation in work, sleep, diet, and self-care (seek balance)
- Be intentional about aptly expressing myself (show respect)
- Spend time on my moral education (study)
- Seek out others for advice (ask and listen)
I won’t attempt to focus on or do these all at once, but little by little, throughout the year. We’ll see how it goes!