According to the calendar, this is the cycle for Water Dragon. As an American new to Chinese traditions, I quite appreciate the numerous references to the beauty and power of nature, in Chinese poetry, art, calendars set to the seasons, and even modern day given names. And now, I appreciate the chance to reflect upon what a Water Dragon may mean for 2012. Though this could signify many different things, essence of life, clarity, cleanliness, and lots and lots of natural power, it also signifies Balance. Water seeks out balance.
The Water Dragon does provide us a special perspective this year. We live increasingly more complicated lives, with multiple responsibilities and multitudes of distractions. Adults juggle careers, taking care of children and aging parents, our homes, our vehicles, our life and health insurance. Our children juggle exams, and fight for play time between other classes expected to make them more skillfully competitive when they are grown. And when there is a free moment available, electronics and televisions fight even harder for our attention.
But as the Water Dragon may say, water doesn’t fight. It knows its power and moves naturally down the valley where its sustenance is accepted easily by the lowest places of the land. It fills valleys and covers boulders. It is powerful and we never question it.
Some can argue, people could just allow nature to take its course, generate the balance and we stand by watching (or carried away by it). It is out of our hands. On scale, I agree, this is the ultimate fate of us mere mortals. But until then, we can also recognize the element of water, even if just symbolically, in our own human lives. We may also find our own balance, all the more satisfying, when many of the modern distractions and pressures are minimized. Let us tune down the televisions, provide more creative and unstructured play time for our children, reduce our time in traffic, and take a walk to listen to the other sounds of life asking nothing from us, like the scurry of the beetle on dry leaves, the beating of feathers on still air. These other forms of life are gifts of insight in our own backyards.
Perhaps we can ask ourselves in 2012, what are we now rushing towards? What are all these activities leading us to obtain? Could it be in this great quest for man-made things we have failed to recognize the wealth of blessings we already have? Are we leaning more and more into an unbalanced state, between the natural and the man-made? Will this year be one to tip us back?