Year of the Fire Monkey

Chinese Monkey Art

2016: Year of the Monkey

Happy Lunar New Year (新年快樂 xin nian kuai le)! For followers of the Chinese lunisolar calendar, today is the first day of yet another Year of the Monkey (猴年 hou nian). More specifically, it’s a Year of the Fire Monkey (火猴年 huo hou nian), which, like all element-animal pairs, occurs once every sixty years: twelve zodiac signs times five elements equals sixty variations.

Infernape
Behold, the fearsome Fire Monkey! Actually, this is a realistic rendering of the Pokemon Infernape, by Heri-Shinato. Also, apes are technically distinct from monkeys. But hey, close enough!

Just think about it. The expansive, chaotic energy of flame coupled with the clever yet reckless attributes of the monkey? Sounds like we’re in for a wild ride! At the risk of seeming culturally insensitive, I suggest we follow the sage advice of Short Round from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom: “Hold on to your potatoes!”

Incidentally, I was born in a previous Year of the Monkey: the Year of the Metal Monkey (金猴年 jin hou nian), which conjures up an entirely different image!

Metal Monkey
Metal Monkey holding a Wooden Rat, by Mike Rigby.

This is the third Year of the Monkey since my birth, hence I’ll be turning 12 * 3 = 36 years old later this year. Kind of fun to think of one’s life in terms of multiples of 12 rather than decades. Anyway, although I don’t actually believe in any form of astrology, here, for our mutual amusement, are some traits supposedly associated with Monkey Year births:

  • Positive traits: Intelligent, dignified, optimistic, romantic, sociable, quick-witted, confident, agile, curious, gregarious.
  • Negative traits: Egotistical, selfish, deceptive, reckless, suspicious, manipulative, restless.
  • Health risks: Circulatory and heart troubles, diabetes, arthritis, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, antisocial personality disorder, bipolar disorder, narcissistic personality disorder.

As is the case with Western astrology, it’s easy to find some words that ring true and others that don’t within these lengthy lists. But again, it’s all good clean fun. I’ve also found it interesting to investigate the attributes associated with both metal and fire in Taoist thought. For starters, metal (金 jin) is associated with yin (陰) of the yin-yang duality, the planet Venus, autumn, dry weather, the west, old age, decline, the color white, the White Tiger (西方白虎 xi fang bai hu), inward motion, contracting energy, and the following:

  • Traits: Firmness, rigidity, stability, ambition, forcefulness, self-reliance, wisdom, patience, willpower, organization, stability, etc.
  • Health: The lungs, large intestine, nose, skin, and emotions surrounding both courage and grief.

Metal also happens to be the element most strongly associated with the monkey in Chinese astrology, so perhaps I should be especially monkey-like? In any case, let’s contrast this with fire (火 huo), which is associated with yang (陽), the planet Mars, summer, hot weather, the south, daylight, prosperity, the color red (extremely lucky in Chinese culture), the Vermillion Bird (南方朱雀 nan fang zhu que), upward motion, expanding energy, and the following:

  • Traits: Dynamism, strength, persistence, restlessness, enthusiasm, creativity, aggression, impatience, impulsiveness, warmth, heat, and burning.
  • Health: The heart, small intestine, tongue, and emotions surrounding both joy and hatred.

I wish I had more time to elaborate on all this, but midnight approaches and I must conclude this post. As such, I’d like to close by simply wishing all of us a happy and prosperous Year of the Fire Monkey, full of as many of its associated positive traits, and as few of the negative, as possible. My thoughts go out especially to all those affected by the recent earthquake in southern Taiwan: may your sorrows and pains be replaced, in due time, with serenity and peace of mind.

Resolutions for 2016

2016 Fireworks

Throughout these, the first two weeks of 2016, I’ve continued to contemplate what I want to accomplish and where I want to be, both figuratively and literally, by year’s end. I don’t always indulge in the tradition of New Year’s resolutions, but this year I’ve decided not only to write a few goals down, but also to share and discuss them here on my blog. So, without further ado, here is resolution number one:

1. Finish and release Golden Drake Studios‘ first game: Adventures Unending.

Game development projects rarely go smoothly enough to meet their initial deadlines, so this is a lofty goal. Nonetheless, through careful monitoring of weekly and monthly progress, I’m confident in my studio’s ability to see it done!

2. Publish new content, either here or on my company’s blog, at least once a month.

I write a lot, but I’m such a perfectionistic self-editor that I rarely publish anything. This needs to change. From now on, you can look forward to reading my thoughts on technology, game design, and various other topics on a more frequent basis.

3. Relocate to a major city with a thriving tech community, such as Seattle or San Francisco.

It’s been great spending time among family, old friends, and gorgeous desert surroundings back here in my hometown of St. George, Utah, but I always knew this was temporary and I’m ready to move on. Having lived in or visited many parts of North America as well as East/Southeast Asia, it’s been difficult to pinpoint exactly where I might want to put down roots. Each part of our planet has its own unique flavor, its own pros and cons. Naturally, this has led me to also consider the perpetually unrooted life of a digital nomad. In the final analysis, however, I still like the idea of having my own long-term home, so I’ll be looking closely at the Pacific Northwest, the Bay Area, and other scenic tech hubs as I consider where to establish it.

4. Exercise, read, write code, do something artistic, and meditate every day.

This is fairly self-explanatory, if a bit vague. Hiking is my primary form of exercise these days, which is wonderful, but I ought to do a better job of regularly working out as well. I also ought to do more reading, i.e., the actual picking up of books and turning of pages rather than the casual skimming of online articles that has dominated my reading life in recent years. Writing code is already more or less a daily habit for me, so that part shouldn’t be difficult. As for “something artistic,” by this I mean anything from game, level, and quest design to drawing or playing around on the guitar: anything that engages my creative/expressive side. Finally, by “meditation” I simply mean setting aside a little time each day for the healthy practice of breathing deeply and fully relaxing both body and mind.