I was born in the Year of the Pig, which I relate with a mixture of gratification and regret.
My pride comes from the admirable qualities with which that accident of birth has endowed me. I have, according to an interpretation of the Chinese zodiac, a beautiful personality. Pigs “may not stand out from the crowd. But they are very realistic. Others may be all talk and no action. Pigs are the opposite. They are energetic and enthusiastic ...”
I could go on, but modesty restrains me.
My dissatisfaction is because in the great race between the animals to serve the Jade Emperor, the pig came in dead last of 12. The rat, through cunning and guile, came in first, followed shortly by the diligent ox and the speedy tiger and rabbit. The pig staggered in behind the 10th-place rooster and the penultimate dog.
(In case ailurophiles have wondered why there is no Year of The Cat, it is because the cat and rat were best of friends, but the rat, in his lust for victory, went back on his promise to wake the cat on the morning of registration. The two animals have been mortal enemies ever since.)
There are many stories about why the pig came in last. One is that he simply overslept, like the cat. Another is that he had to rebuild his house after the wolf destroyed it. One even has it that he was the reincarnation of a fat, lazy man who was being punished for never trying anything in life because he had been born rich and privileged.
I prefer the story that the pig, heavy and slow, met many obstacles along the way but persevered though he was always behind. I should have that put on my tombstone: He did the best he could.
I apologize if this excursion into mystical, Eastern frivolity threatens the emotional equilibrium of those steeped in the Western tradition of logic, rational inquiry and empiric observations of the material world.
But all efforts to tame time, measure it and study it and break it down into discrete units, are arbitrary and capricious, pathetic attempts to reduce the unfathomable mysteries of eternity to fit into our mundane human trivialities. East and West thus have equal claim to futility.
And the Chinese system at least has one advantage over the Gregorian calendar, that of attempting to foolishly describe the year to come instead of requiring us to wait until it’s all over to get everything wrong about what it all meant.
We are now leaving, in case you were wondering, the Year of the Tiger. Which was supposed to be a “year of hope amidst great challenges,” It was to be a year of risk-taking and adventure, a pivot toward “refreshingly good change” despite the times of great struggle. So, how did that work out for you?
We will soon be entering the Year of the Rabbit, which will embody “yin, the passive principle of the universe, which manifests in relaxation, fluidity, quietness and contemplation.” The overall energy of 2023 is likely to be “gentle and calm,” with people looking for “a more balanced life.”
Let me know how that goes.
The Year of the Rabbit begins on Jan.22, if you wish to get your new year’s resolutions ready, and the celebration will last for 16 days. That’s a lot of hangovers, so better stock up on aspirin and good, strong coffee.
Meanwhile, back here in the Year of Our Lord 2023:
The U.S. House in a deeply divided Congress will stop investigating Donald Trump’s life, and the U.S. House in a deeply divided Washington will begin investigating Joe Biden’s life.
A supermajority that spent last year doing just what it pleased in the Indiana General Assembly will spend this year doing just what it pleases in the Indiana General Assembly.
The city of Indianapolis, in which I am composing this week’s efforts, marked New Year’s Eve with two murders and began New Year’s Day with several overnight shootings.
And so it goes. With apologies to Pete Townsend: Meet the new year, same as the old year.
Leo Morris, columnist for The Indiana Policy Review, is winner of the Hoosier Press Association’s award for Best Editorial Writer. Morris, as opinion editor of the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, was named a finalist in editorial writing by the Pulitzer Prize committee. Contact him at email@example.com.