Sunday, January 22, 2012

Other New Year

I've been going through and posting about our winter trip little by little, because I want to note it all pretty carefully, but I realized today that I've been leaving out a lot of what's happened since then!

Today it's sunny and ridiculously warm for January; I've got the windows open and the laundry out. Wearin' just one layer and everything! It feels like Georgia out there (46, according to the weather channel).. It's a bright way to start the Dragon year.

Tomorrow's new moon kicks off the lunar new year, which is the actual start of the Year of the Dragon. Water Dragon, to be precise, and I hope that bodes well. Lawyers and I did "The Year in Review" back in December, and by most counts it was a pretty lame year. I recall saying I looked forward to the Rabbit for a nice little rest, and in many ways I can see how last year was metallic rabbitlike, a period of holding space, of making progress without ever actually achieving anything, it seemed. It was hard to find the special high points, although easy enough to point to the low (March, June). The Tohoku disaster was absolutely, abominably devastating to so many people's lives. And while for me, the hardest part of losing Shannon is seeing others lose her too (lose her more?), it was and is still a rocking personal loss. We were asked to give our own personal "best news" from 2011 for the end of year party and I found myself swallowing and looking back over the months and finding... what? "Best news"? What had I accomplished? What had I become in one year's time?

I wrote down my Shorinji brown belt (not to be confused with my 2-kyu test in the summer, which I hated), and my kids winning speech contest, and could not generate a third piece of news. This is strictly personal of course. I had a lot of fun, did a lot of stuff, traveled, met new people, conceived new dreams, tried to kill some old ones off, but couldn't boil it down to anything solid. This also has a lot to do with the state of mind I was in pre-trip.

But tomorrow's new moon is not for dwelling on the past year and its immobility, its status as the "Year without climax." It's about what's happening now, and what will happen next. My next Cambodia trip entry will be the Angkor Wat day, which was also New Year's Eve, and how we rang it into Siem Reap. What I know about the Dragon, now, is that I'm ready. I know this in the same way that I knew with the Rabbit I was not. Not ready to take on the next big challenge, the move, the change, the handing over of this niche and life to someone else.

Today I went to buy new filters for my water pitcher, and picked the 4-pack. "Hey successor," I thought, "you probably haven't even been selected yet, but I'm already gettin you presents." ('Cause the life of all 4 water filters exceeds my tenure)

Sometimes when I stop to think about it, I don't know how I'm going to give up this seat. I've never been good at letting go of any good thing, and I know this is a good thing. For all the little pitfalls and problems, it's still a good thing. You know a vacation was good when it is not only fun in the moment, but makes you better able to appreciate what you have once you get back home, and our trip definitely did that.

I got back on the ball and finished my TEFL course upon returning to Japan. I took the test last weekend and am officially certified now, just like that (certificate's in the mail!). My Shorinji Kempo test for 1-kyu is coming up on the 2nd, and I feel good about it. I mean, I'm not supremely confident, but I've been working hard, and I feel much more ready. For the first week after I got back to Japan, I was going to bed at a reasonable hour and not feeling rushed anymore, or as put-upon. A little of that has come back, but mostly things are falling off as I had lined them up to do. Once decision day is past, I can start training a successor in Hyogo Times. I'm auctioning off my jetwit posting responsibilities to whoever is a capable comer. Twitchy-sensei is the only thing guaranteed to make me crazy, but since they teamed him up, this semester, with Mikan-sensei (poor Mikan-sensei is a pretty big responsibility sponge over there), he keeps Twitchy in line; things are much more tolerable even there.

I have a tendency, I know, to load up on too many things. There are too many things to do, and a great number of them seem worth doing, and so I decide to do them. My resolution last year was -- in space-holding fashion -- just not to add any new things (and I failed at that right away with jetwit). This year it is a decided shift in a letting-go direction. Stop doing all that stuff. Actively get rid of things (objects, responsibilities), with an aim toward a simpler, less cluttered, thus less stressed life, and perhaps even time to write that novel.

I'm still going to travel, and write, and keep in touch by sending people things, because now I don't know how not to. But I am working on saying no, on giving myself the time and space which I am always so keen to give away. I enjoy socializing, but it really does take energy. Today I planned to just hang out until this evening's event in Himeji, reading Hunger Games before my Amazon Prime membership expires tomorrow, running errands. I've had two invitations to go places and do things, and I very nearly said yes to them both. I love to say yes, I love to hang out and chat with people, but I am recognizing more and more that I need some of that for just me, too, and that saying yes just because you are asked is silly.

So, the Water Dragon, what is that like? The dragon is the luckiest of the 12 zodiac creatures, and the only one that is mythical. It's the most badass. I think the water element will make it calm, but it will still be all about energy, dynamism, change. It's a good time to learn to leap.

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