Happy Lunar New Year everyone! I’m referring to the start of the new year celebrated in many countries in East Asia, often known as Chinese New Year. I’m a little late since Monday, February 1 was Lunar New Year’s eve and Tuesday, February 2 was the start of the New Year itself. However, in Asia they usually celebrate this occasion for a solid two weeks (from the new moon to the full moon), so we can still join in the festivities.
I did mark the holiday on Tuesday with a dinner containing what are traditionally considered to be auspicious foods. We had dumplings (a symbol of wealth, as they are shaped like ancient Chinese ingots of silver and gold), noodles (long noodles are supposed to represent long life), and oranges (which are supposed to bring a full and happy life). What I did NOT do is the traditional cleaning of the house. By Lunar New Year Day, your home is supposed to be spic and span as a symbol of a fresh start, full of opportunity and the ability to fill your life with nothing but the good. My house, well…it is kind of the opposite of that. We are in the process of moving, so it is full of boxes and wrapping paper and rolls of packing tape and all the accoutrements of a move. It will be a fresh new space for us this year…but we definitely aren’t there yet.
Nonetheless, I feel really ready for this year’s Chinese zodiac designation, because this is supposed to be the Year of the Tiger. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for some Tiger energy. The Tiger is a powerful, brave, and fierce animal. In Chinese mythology, the Tiger is a guardian animal that is called upon by the Jade Emperor to drive out evil demons. And man, are there some demons I’m ready to drive out of my life!
As with my post yesterday that discussed numerology and astrology (click here for that), I only have a superficial knowledge of traditional Chinese mythology and beliefs. However, my experience of the past two years correlates with my understanding of the Chinese zodiac animals. The first year of the pandemic, 2020, was the year of the Rat. Rat is supposed to be quick-witted and resourceful, using its cleverness to make up for its small size and lack of intimidating features. And for all the terrible parts of 2020, when COVID-19 was first raging and we had little knowledge and few weapons to combat it, I think it was a time of a lot of innovation and quick thinking. Looking back, it is amazing how quickly both individuals and institutions re-invented their operations to adjust to life in the pandemic world. From preschoolers to senior citizens, almost everyone, even those who had never heard of Zoom before, suddenly adapted to conducting their business and personal affairs through the magic of digital technology.
Then came 2021, which was the Year of the Ox. Ox is a symbol of diligence, of the power of plodding on. And wasn’t that how at least the first half of 2021 felt? At first Zoom holiday gatherings and drive-by birthday celebrations were novel, but after a year of them, they were getting old. We were tired of wearing masks and using hand santizers constantly. All the signs and periodic expressions of community support in the world weren’t enough to empower the exhausted health care workers, teachers, and other essential workers whose hard work was made even harder by the restraints imposed by the coronavirus. Nevertheless, they persisted, somehow continuing to show up for work again day after day after day. Fortunately, the diligence of the scientists and technicians in the labs paid off, because they discovered, tested, produced, and distributed a vaccine that could protect us from the virus––and in an unprecentedly short time! Summer 2021 felt like a celebration, a liberation! However, perhaps if more of us had continued to practice the diligent requirements of the Ox instead of throwing caution to the wind and deciding all dangers were over, we might be in a better situation as we entered 2022, where the new varient, omicron, was bringing hospitalization and death rates to high rates we hoped we had left behind.
So here we are. I hope this Year of the Tiger means it is time for us to be strong and brave and to battle back against the bad aspects of our society. I hope this is the year where we can go on the offensive against coronavirus, perhaps converting it from a deadly pandemic to a bothersome but less dangerous disease we’ve learned to live with and still carry on with more normal lives. But I also hope it will be a time when we stand up to or even drive out the things that threaten to divide us as a nation and as a world. I hope we take a stand for brother/sisterhood over racism, for environmental health over ecological devastation, for peace over conflict. That, at least, is my Lunar New Years resolution.
But what does any of that have to do with a pink purse, as mentioned in the title?
So while I didn’t do the physical tiding on Monday associated with Lunar New Year Eve, I did do a financial/legal cleansing and ordering. I took the morning off from moving and spent the time paying bills, submitting change of address forms, and similar kinds of boring paperwork. The highlight of the day was when it first occurred to me that since I’ve been substituting for the local school system, I might be eligible to join our state employees credit union. I’ve always favored credit unions, but haven’t belonged to one since I moved to North Carolina from Washington DC. So after waiting on hold for at least 5 minutes as they researched my case, I was elated to find out that I could open an account there. I immediately ran over, only to discover the person setting me up was a vendor with my beloved Cary Downtown Farmers Market! We had a great talk and he opened my accounts, including connecting me with a program they have to provide some of the legal documents I need at a very reasonable price. I transferred much of my liquid assets from my old bank to my new credit union account, which was paying FIFTEEN TIMES as much credit as the bank. (OK, so it’s only 0.15%, because interest rates are low everywhere. But given that my bank was paying 0.01%, that’s still a major upgrade.)
On Tuesday, Lunar New Year, I was back at the moving business, looking forward to my celebration of noodles and dumplings at the end of the day. A dear friend of mine called to say she was in the area and asked if I could use any help. OF COURSE I could, and she generously came by and helped me haul boxes into my car. We get by with a little help from our friends.
While she was there, she asked me if I wanted a new wallet. My kneejerk thought was NO. I hadn’t thought about getting a new wallet, and since this move is also a major downsizing, my mantra is GET RID OF IT. But I paused a moment and considered. Then I pulled out my old wallet, showed it to her, and asked, “What, you mean you think I should replace this?”
We both laughed. I had never thought “Oh, I need a new wallet.” After all, it still worked. But was this worn and shabby wallet in alignment with my new focus on getting my financial act together? Would money be attracted to this housing? Most of all, it is amazing how I just got used to carrying around such an unattractive thing. But it doesn’t match my vision for my life in 2022.
She showed me her proposed alternative:
She had gotten it for herself, but she said it had looked more red online (as it does in my photo) instead of the Elle Woods (Legally Blonde) pink it was in real life. She just didn’t want it or want to bother returning it. It was definitely different than any wallet I had owned before. It was bigger and wider and flatter, and emphasized a whole display of the many cards we need to carry today instead of stuffing multiple ones in a few pocket.
I recalled that it was Lunar New Year, which is definitely a time for gift giving in Asian Culture. I felt like it was a precious spiritual gift not just from her, but from the Universe. It felt like a support in my effort to get my act together, not just in my financial affairs, but in my physical space. It was, in its way, something revolutionary. And I’m thinking this will be a revolutionary year for me.
I also remembered that giving and receiving is a cycle. The boxes we were loading that day were actually bed linens that I was bringing back to my new house to wash so that I could donate them to a local charity. If I was engaged in giving things away, perhaps I needed to receive something as well to keep life in balance.
Therefore, with many thanks, I accepted her gift. I declare the color to Positivity Pink! And I want to think positive thoughts, for myself, my family, my friends, and my world, each time I pick it up. That will make it an extra powerful and precious gift.
So be on the lookout for the gifts the Universe may be trying to bestow upon for the next week and a half. Be generous and be accepting. After all, we never know in what form the Tiger may appear…