As the Chinese proverb goes, time passes like arrow, and at the turn of the eye we are now at the end of 2007. It is also the time to take stock of the events that have occurred over the year, so as to prepare for the coming year.
It's fortunate that I have listed a litany of things that I would like to see accomplished in 2007, a kind of new year resolutions made at about the same time but one year removed. So it becomes just a matter of going down the list, checking the item off one by one. Here I go.
a) Non-smoker: Checked. Thanks to the fact that most, if not all, establishments impose a “No Smoking” policy. Now the most I would encounter is the occasional arm stretched out of the window, a burning cigarette dangling from the fingers, while trailing in traffic. Other times I may step on some cigarette butts on the ground. But most often than not, it's the virtual variety, meaning those seen in TV or the movie.
b) Non-drinker: Checked. While I have visited the area liquor shops several times, these visits were made with wify as consuming wine is one of the ways she fights off the cold weather. Also, it conforms to the social norm here when wine is being served so that my abstinence would not seem too out-of-place. Since wify does not drive, our arrangement would ensure that drinking and driving does not mix in our household.
c) Conscientious blogger: Checked. Our blogs have always been based on our personal journey through life, and personal reactions to actual events, with increasingly more works of English translations of Chinese Buddhist articles. Proper attribution is always given when third party materials are used. In the year, we have also added an interactive blog devoted to wify's drawings, and another two non-interactive blogs focused on the English translations of wisdom gems embodied in Buddhist verses and Chinese literature. Here, interactivity refers to whether the readers' comment facility is enabled.
d) Giving: Checked. In line with one of the six paramitas (perfections) advanced in Buddhism, we have been supporting area Dharma events both in cash donations and in kind. Admittedly, with our limited resources, we have given less to the needy outside of the Buddhist sphere, but that's a balancing act one would have to reconcile for oneself.
e) Photo scenes: Checked. Photo images of nature and life' ongoings continue to enliven our blog pages, digitally, and also fill up our photo books, in prints, enhancing our memory stores considerably.
f) Making good relations: Checked, with a small red flag. While this may be a rather subjective assessment, I do feel that I have become a better human being to those around me in terms of controlling my temper. While feelings of dislikes, irritations, displeasure do creep up once in a while in my consciousness, I was able to contain them where they belong, in my mind, and let them pass by contemplating their empty nature in the grand scheme of things. But I still have to work on my body language (the body reflects what the mind thinks) and the urge to feel smug through making witty (in my naivete) retorts. I find that taking deep breaths and reciting Buddha's name silently help in those situations, even during the occasional bouts of insomnia.
g) Actualizing the Bodhisattva Way: Checked, with a fluttering red flag. I still find it hard to dispense with the discriminatory way. The mind habitually calculates the personal benefit and loss columns and tallies the mental ledger. But at least I am beginning to realize such thought arising and to deal with it there and then. We have started observing the Ten-Vegetarian Day mode of food intake, finding that vegetarian cuisine can be as tasty too, thanks to wify's culinary repertoire.
h) Environmental Consciousness: Half-Checked. That means more can be done. Our energy saving measures include changing the light bulbs to the CFL kind, by replacement as they wear out, switching off lights when not in use, relying on natural conditioning (but heating is better managed than air-conditioning. It seems the body is better able to withstand cold and dry than hot and humid condition), planning car trips, and for myself, driving economically, which means easy on the pedal.
i) Healthy Diet: Checked. This is a desirable outcome from (g) above. Others include less sugar intake, going for wholemeal bread, using olive oil. And above all, drink more water.
j) Exercise: Half-Checked. I have been parking at the multi-level parking garage that involves some walking to my office. But this is incidental in the sense that that remains the closest, legal one anyway, parking facility. It's the promenading part (along the Bayshore Boulevard) that I have failed wify. But our infrequent trips to the Lettuce Lake Park, one that makes more sense logistically after our move from South Tampa to next to USF, did help ease her disappointment somewhat. For some time now we have also started a daily morning routine exercise, Lifting the Sky, thanks to wify's insistence and WJ's letting us into his exercise regimen. This is a simple body exercise involving moving the out-stretched hands in circular motion, first upward from the downward pointing position, frontally, holding the skyward position over the head for a while (hence, lifting the sky), and then side-way to both sides of the body in the downward swing, slowly. Breathe in and breathe out on the upward and downward swings, respectively. We usually do it ten times. A Malaysian friend who has started the routine reported disappearing body aches and less tendency to succumb to fatigue.
k) Balancing Work and Life: Checked. Other than the occasional checking in at the office on weekend, accompanied by wify of course, to make sure that the numerical modeling runs are not abortive, my work has stayed at the office. More important, I am increasingly able to detach the mind from work-related matters during off-work mode. Any such thought that happens to arise would just pass with me merely observing.
l) Prayer for global peace: Checked. This is a resounding one, it being the least I could do.
Having done the stock taking on the penultimate day of 2008, it leaves the last day, which is tomorrow, for my 2008 resolutions. Let's see what I can come up with.