The New Year Invited a Quake

Welcome to the Year of the Water Dragon (according to myth, water will determine a person’s fortune) in the Chinese zodiac calendar. The legendary dragon and only legendary animal in the calendar. Dragons symbolize power and come from heaven. Dragons can be:

Magnanimous, stately, vigorous, strong, self-assured, proud, noble, direct, dignified, eccentric, intellectual, fiery, passionate, decisive, pioneering, artistic, generous, loyal. Can be tactless, arrogant, imperious, tyrannical, demanding, intolerant, dogmatic, violent, impetuous, brash.

I’ve gotten used to the influence of the Chinese zodiac on the New Year in Japan. You can see many zodiac symbols at the beginning of the year, especially if you send and receive New Year’s cards. This year’s 年賀状(nengajō) New Year’s Day postcards usually have a dragon of some sort on the front. There is an exception to this etiquette:

It is customary not to send these postcards when one has had a death in the family during the year. In this case, a family member sends a simple postcard called 喪中葉書 (mochyuu hagaki もちゅうはがき, eng: mourning postcards) to inform friends and relatives they should not send New Year’s cards, out of respect for the deceased.

This year I decide to abandon all New Year’s traditions both Japanese and American to opt instead of going my own way. Why make resolutions I know I won’t keep? Why do what doesn’t make me happy? A Happy New Year should start out happy. This is what I told myself. I’ll try to live my life without compromising unless it’s necessary. I don’t want to come off as selfish, but “to compromise” means “to give up something that you want in order to reach an agreement.” The question I ask myself: Does compromise mean win-win or win-lose? For me, if it’s not a win-win situation, I won’t compromise. Instead, I’ll look for a different alternative.

When it comes to business, I will uphold “honesty, integrity, and service before self.” These are some of the values I’ve incorporated from the Air Force’s core values, which I think are good values to live by. Moreover, I should never forget who I am and where I come from. If I don’t value myself and my principles, it’s impossible to create value for myself and others. I should also use my experience and training to cope with and deal with problems and disasters as they arise.

Japan is a country plagued with seismic activity and typhoons, so disaster preparedness is paramount for survival. It’s never too early to plan for a natural disaster. Many excellent Websites have primers on disaster preparedness. For example, Are you prepared?, FEMA has a PDF you can download, and if your kids are at school or you’re at work, you need to know what to do.

Coincidentally, an earthquake hit Tokyo yesterday. It was only a 4.0, but my place shook pretty good. Maybe the New Year’s quake was a reminder that I must be prepared for things that I can’t control in my life. I know we can’t be ready for everything that is thrown at us, but in many cases we should still know what to do, to avoid panic, and to keep a cool head.

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