Not so long ago I wrote a post about my hooded eyes and my jealousy, and my tremendous relief when I found that the jealousy wasn’t really my fault, that I might have inherited it from my grandmother as I inherited her hooded eyes. All I had to be concerned with was my own reaction to it, and my actions.
A Chinese restaurant opened recently not far from us, and besides our happiness at having a new source for our favorite cuisine, it has provided me with another puzzle piece of psychological relief. How? Because the place mats at Ginger Garden give detailed descriptions of the Chinese zodiac, and so I discovered that, although this is the Year of the Snake, I myself was born under the sign of the Dog.
The Chinese zodiac, if you don’t know it, is fascinating in how it meshes in some ways with our Western zodiac, but is very different in other ways. It is not dependent on the stars, but on cycles, and its symbols are animals. The 12-year-cycle begin with the Year of the Rat and goes through the Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig, and back round to Rat.
Each animal has its own attributes for better and for worse, although it isn’t quite as simple as that. The characteristics of the each animal sign are tempered by one of the five Chinese elements of Metal, Water, Wood, Fire and Earth overlaying a 5-year cycle of characteristics on the original 12-year cycle. So not only am I a Dog, but I am a Wood Dog, a sign appearing once in every 60 years.
Now so far it’s all just fun and games (unless you are seriously into Chinese astrology). Where it morphed into something rather different is when I started delving into the characteristics of the Dog, especially the Wood Dog, and this is the first thing I found:
“The Dog is perhaps the most pessimistic sign in the Chinese zodiac.” Whoa! My immediate sense of relief only deepened as I continued reading: “You have a tendency to look at what is wrong with things or at what you might be lacking. This causes you anxiety and makes you fret excessively, especially during those times when you don’t think you’re good enough for whatever. When you fail to solve the problems of the world you might become bitter and cynical. ”
You might find it odd that such a seemingly negative assessment gave me such a sense of relief, but it did. All my life I’ve suffered from anxiety, worry, and pessimism, and I’ve always felt that it’s been my own intentional volitional fault. Now it seems that it’s simply a trait that I was born with, because I was born in the Year of the Dog.
Here’s how another zodiac website put it: “Born worriers, Dog people can sometimes bark and bite at those around them, or become highly critical of others who do not share their same highly developed sense of honor and duty. Conversely, Dogs may become quiet, cool and judgmental with loved ones who arouse their anger, but they will always remain devoted.”
Well, devoted is good. And furthermore, as a Wood Dog, it turns out I care less about being a leader and more about being part of the pack. That’s good to hear too. In this Chinese New Year it seems appropriate to start off on yet another journey of self-discovery! If I’ve whet your appetite for another way of understanding yourself, or simply whet your curiosity, there are plenty of websites to help you figure out what your own sign is, and what its attributes are. Just ask Mr. Google.
As for me, I’ll share one final description with you, because it’s my favorite: “The Dog will never let you down. Born under this sign you are honest, and faithful to those you love. You are plagued by constant worry, a sharp tongue, and a tendency to be a fault finder, however. You would make an excellent businessman, activist, teacher, or secret agent.”
I’ve been many different things in my whole long life, but secret agent was never one of them. Now that I don’t have to assume that my pessimistic views are always rooted in reality, maybe I can relax and enjoy myself more. If I can worry less, maybe I can be playful more. If anxiety isn’t a necessary mode, joyfulness may become one. And I can always look forward to a new career, to new adventures — 007 and 1/2, here I come!