Greetings for the the Lunar New Year – also known as Chinese New Year, the Tet Festival (in Viet Nam) and the Spring Festival! Celebrations well under way throughout China, Southeast Asia and the of course, the San Francisco Bay Area where I live.
This being the Year of the Pig, I felt justified in pigging out (a little) at my favorite local Chinese restaurant the other night. But when I read the fortune in my cookie, it wasn’t the usual proverb or platitude: “Why not go out on a limb? Isn’t that where the fruit is?” And I’ve been thinking about that challenge ever since. Why am I afraid to go out on a limb? Today I watch a squirrel leaping from limb to limb on an old plum tree outside my window, while a bird perches on the tip of a branch, shaking the early blossoms. They’re all literally going out on a limb. “Well,” you may say, “their DNA is simply programmed to do that.” Still, sitting at my desk like a sedentary stone, I can’t help envying the lightness and agility of these riparian creatures.
But as surely the earth circles the sun, I too can feel the stirrings of new beginnings even though winter still reigns supreme in much of the country. Something deeply magical happens when I synchronize with the cycle of the seasons on a lunar calendar rather than slavishly following the linear Gregorian calendar. As the ancients knew, the moon’s gravitational pull regulates the tides and the fertility cycles of women, not to mention the romantic musings of poets, lovers and lunatics. Not bad for a pale orb of stone with no life of its own, whose only light is but a reflection of the sun.
Beyond setting the Chinese New Year, the lunar calendar is more widespread than you might think. For example, both Jewish and Islamic holidays follow the lunar cycle. This year, the Arabic New Year known as Hijri is synchronized with the appearance of the new crescent moon on August 30, while Rosh Hashana begins at sundown on September 29. Arriving near the end of the harvest season, these lunar holidays bring endings and beginnings full circle.
So instead of stressing over a million essentials that have to happen between now and the launch date of my book in July 2019 – stuff like final proofs (a relief), getting my website up (yay), generating blogs (ugh), updating social media (Grrrrr…), or (scariest of all) humbly seeking testimonials – I’m trying to remember that I’m on track at a deeper level. July just happens to be my birthday month so what better time to bring my book out into the world?