The New Year has come and for some so has a list of resolutions. This year I barely acknowledged this common tradition as 2011 turned into 2012. Four days into the New Year, I had finished entertaining our holiday house guests and dropped them off at the airport. On the way home, the radio announcer talked about the approach of the Chinese Year of the Dragon, and I thought, Can I trade in my Rat for a Dragon?
2012 is the Year of the Dragon, a specific pairing of one of 12 Chinese zodiac symbols with particular years of the Chinese calendar. This celebration may be specific to Chinese culture, but there are many non-Chinese who also pay attention to these yearly pairings. I’ve known for quite some time, for instance, that I was born in the Year of the Rat. This had not pleased me when initially discovered, since rats are not looked on favorably in my country. But it turns out that rats, like all the other symbols of the Chinese zodiac, have many redeeming characteristics… rats are smart, magnetic, well-liked, affable and quick-witted, AND some characteristics of questionable value… rats are also surreptitious, selfish, protective and calculating.
This year, I’d like to trade in my Rat for 2012’s Dragon. The Dragon’s characteristics are far more appealing to me this year–dragons are innovative, enterprising, flexible, self-assured, brave and passionate. I could really use some more of that, especially that ‘innovative’ and ‘enterprising’ stuff. Just pay no attention to the less-than-desirable characteristics… dragons are also conceited, tactless, scrutinizing, unanticipated and quick-tempered; I guess that’s all the ‘fire’ of the dragon. Quite frankly, I could use a little more fire in my veins.
I really do need to be tough this year and to soar as high as the Dragon. I’ve got a lot to accomplish. It may not be my time yet… I may not be ready, but I am eager to step outside myself this year and breathe fire on the garbage that drags me down to dark alleyways, damp basements and deserted dwellings. Even though I did a lot this year–moving cross country, taking a chance on love again, backpacking through Yosemite National Park, decorating floats for the Rose Parade in California this past week… all great stuff–I still felt like I was in the shadows somehow, nibbling at life from a darkened corner. The things that lifted me up were in competition with the things that brought me down this year–questioning failed relationships, facing a poor financial outlook, worrying about the welfare of friends and family. My fake-it-until-you-make-it mantra has been reduced to background noise after a year of overuse. I need a new mantra this year, so this Rat is going to surreptitiously steal some fire and passion from the mighty, magical Dragon.
Except for skydiving nine years ago, and a few safe trips between East coast and West coast in the body of a steel-bellied bird, I haven’t done any free-wheelin’ flying lately. I’m long overdue. So, I feel a few resolutions coming on that I’ll work on with the advent of the Year of the Dragon:
1) I resolve to step out from the shadows and fearlessly fly high this year.
2) I resolve to breathe fire against the negative thoughts and naysayers in my life.
If I like the results by year-end, I may resolve to be more Dragon-like instead of Rat-like from there on. Even though, when it comes down to it, all of the Chinese zodiac signs have their share of good and bad characteristics, as we all do as individuals. Our weakness or our strength is determined by what we choose to do with what we have been given.
Generally speaking, the Chinese New Year brings its own special traditions, not the least of which is to reconcile, to forget all grudges and to sincerely wish peace and happiness for everyone. Sounds to me like that sets one up for some mighty high flying. Happy New Year and Happy Chinese New Year!