The live telecast of the New Year countdown at Time Square, NY during the last remaining moments of 2008 helped usher in another 365 days of living, affording a renewed time frame to realize the goals of 2008 yet unfulfilled, to get over and to learn from the disappointments of 2008, or to chart a new territory to explore, new goals to reach. And the annual wheel of new year resolutions continues to roll on, gaining momentum or struggling over the ruts as the case may be.
Looking over my past year, there has been no major upheavals, just the normal dose of hiccups that sometimes make life that much more eventful, reminding me once again how blessed I have been.
Work-wise, I continued to be gainfully employed, capitalizing on some slack time to learn new modeling suites to augment my repertoire. I'm glad that I still retain the capacity to be excited by new advances, and receptive to the nitty-gritty of getting down to the basics and the hands dirty, metaphorically speaking.
On the spiritual side, we remained the staunch supporters of the Middle Way Buddhist Association, and attended their monthly Dharma sessions without fail as reported through my other blog. In between, we also participated in several local activities organized by the Orlando Chapter of Tzu Chi Organization, having subscribed to the Buddhist missions set forth by Master Cheng Yen, the founder. On a daily basis, I maintained an English translation of the Verses of Silent Thoughts published by Master Cheng Yen, either taken from the Tzu Chi's website or from the daily weekday email attachments received by Wify here. This daily activity confers two major benefits at the personal level: partaking of the Buddhist wisdom embedded therein, and honing my translation skills. On a wider scale, it helps to propagate these universal messages of loving kindness, compassion, wisdom, and giving among the English-speaking populace, at least that is my hope through my own small way, in addition to those published in the Tzu Chi's website on their own.
In the realm of hobby, we have cut back substantially on traveling to visit new places, having not stepped out of the state in the past year and being content with traversing along I-75 between Tampa and Gainesville periodically to pick up and drop off WT at UF. In-state travel was also in the doldrums, except for a few trips to the Guang Ming Temple in Orlando. However, missing out on physically being out there was more than made up through virtual travel courtesy of the Internet, deriving equally thrilling vicarious experience circumscribed only by the extent of our imagination.
On reading, our library of used books continued to expand apace, the used book store at the Temple Terrace Public Library remaining our primary choice of acquisition, supplemented by book gifts from CY who shares in our passion for reading. I continued to read a variety of books (novels, Buddhist texts, engineering magazines and journals, etc.), following my usual style of intermittent reading when the time and the venue permit. The one that straddles this new year is Odd Hours by Dean Koontz (Bantam Books, 2008), leaving the last 30 odd pages out of 280+ pages for 2009. In fact, I just finished it this morning, captivated by another fascinating “tour of duty” by Odd Thomas who, time and again, used his naturally endowed ability to communicate with the departed to thwart the evil plans of the few megalomaniacs among the human species, and emerged victorious.
On movies, we stuck to our judiciously mixed schedule of buying pre-viewed DVD movies from Hollywood Videos, and less frequently, Blockbuster Videos, and visiting the cinemas for the rare new releases adjudged to be of high quality that deserved the increased expenditure tag that we could afford, including at IMAX theaters. Those in the latter category include Eagle Eye, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Hancock, and The Dark Night. Lately, we have also been drawn to Korean dramas , the serialized kind, averaging about 16 episodes each, sometimes eliciting tear shedding while at other times, hearty laughs, from us because of the realistic themes, credible plots, fabulous cast and acting interspersed with flawless serenading of melodious tunes. Along the way, we also picked up some simple Korean phrases while relying on the Chinese subtitles to follow the drama. They actually utter the word, “fighting”, as a rallying call to instill encouragement. All these dramas came highly recommended by CE, who in turn follows a rating guide issued by a Korean blogger.
Turning to health, I was the only one who succumbed to illness, specifically stomach ulcers, brought about more than anything else by my procrastination in seeking medical help, until it blew over, requiring my first ever hospitalization for redressal. The experience has been a humbling one, and I have emerged the wiser and become a firm believer of preventive care, and nipping things in the bud, so to speak.
These rambling account of events in 2008 has put me in good stead to see with clarity things I need to continue, to change, and to improve, both in terms of personal enrichment, and in relationship and social interaction. Just my own way of starting off my blogging in the new year.
And talking about the new year, the lunar one, which the Chinese people celebrate, is not far behind. In 2009, the Chinese year will usher in the Ox, taking over from the Mouse as the Chinese zodiac signs go in an eternal cycle of twelve years per rotation, each bearing the symbol of an animal in consonance with Chinese astrology. While it is an endless loop, the sequence does start with the mouse and end with the boar. How the mouse got to be first in the line is the subject of blogging for another day. And we await its arrival with anticipation. Plus I would blog about the general characteristics of each animal zodiac symbol in the next instalment. Stay tuned.
The twelve zodiac signs in Chinese astrology, encircling the Chinese character for blessings and anchored at the four corners by the Chinese expression "Good Luck Every Year", taken from the 2009 calendar given by Oriental MD Store, Tampa.