creativity · health · meaning · philosophy

Year of the Water Rabbit

Weeks of rain have come to an end and raging waters now occupy a once dried-out creek. The speed and power of the water invigorates my morning racewalks and I find myself wishing it will never abate. And such is the mental suffering of clinging to permanence where there is none; especially here in typically ever-sunny Silicon Valley.

I often muse on my walks—mind wandering in waves of creativity. Lately I’ve been musing on possible meanings and resonances of the year of the Water Rabbit. This past Water Tiger year was so demanding and unforgivingly active. Not unlike the raging waters that have carted away sediment and felled dead trees all along the creek. Same element, yet Tiger and Rabbit represent antithetical animal energies and symbolisms.

Let’s start with contemplating the astounding properties of water. Water molecules want to cling to each other. Surface water molecules do not have other water molecules on all sides so they strongly cohere with their closest molecular neighbors. This affords water one of the greatest surface tensions of any liquid and makes water able to hold objects afloat.  

Water can flow in any direction. This uber-mobility means water molecules are constantly colliding and applying pressure in all directions. That is how water—seemingly uncontained and not solid—has so much strength. It dissolves more substances than any other liquid and cuts through almost anything including metal and rock. Yet water can also be a wellspring of gentleness and healing.

That gentleness leads us to consider Rabbit’s surprising characteristics. While rabbits are generally regarded as innocent, harmless, and adorable animals, they actually possess very sharp sight, hearing, and smell. Their almost 360° panoramic vision lets them see objects behind them. Additionally, rabbits have extremely strong hind limbs and leap great distances with ease. Rabbits also possess a highly sophisticated dorsal vagal freeze response. This protects them from predators either by stopping and hiding in place or ‘playing dead’ should they be captured. Also noted for fecundity, rabbits have an astoundingly high annual offspring production rate.

Putting all this together a Water Rabbit year feels simultaneously powerful and subtle. Gentle determination might best describe energy manifested in flexibility, adaptability, keen sensory embodiment and limitless creativity. No more stomping around foisting and forcing personal gain onto others. Best to rely on gentle, deep listening and other-centered consensus building to accomplish all aims.  That sounds enticing and so juicy given the full plate of transformative actions 2023 seems poised to require.

With that I wish you a healthy and happy Lunar Year of the Water Rabbit! Xīnnián hǎo!

exercise · health · mental health · mind · nature · philosophy · podcast · psychology · wellness

As We Think?

I start most days racewalking the Creek trail. In late Fall and Winter my headlamp illuminates a few feet ahead, until dawn finally lights the path. Raccoons scurry by; egrets perch quietly. Though skunk smell often hangs in the air, I have never seen one.

This morning my mind produced a disturbing thought/image… what if I got sprayed by a skunk? How would I remove the smell? With no answer in mind, I continued enjoying the special feeling of a Winter Solstice sickle moon hanging low in the sky.

A little more than halfway through my walk, the trail dips closer to the creek and I hear familiar bubbling waters and duck calls. It is too dark to see any of this. Suddenly I detect a faint movement of white close to the ground on my left. My mind races to determine what it is.

As my head turns, the headlamp illuminates a beautiful skunk, white tail straight up in the air. I startle and chuckle quietly… synchronicity? Power of mind? Intuitive foreshadowing? Please don’t fear me and spray! My body speeds up to avert the very image mind conjured up only a short while ago.

We are such strange creatures—so at the ready to connect dots, create meaning, assign deterministic frames to what are probabilistic random events. Randomness does not sit well in a meaning-making animal that spins tales of thought’s power and intentionality. We believe as we think, so life occurs. The grandeur we accord to our inner thought world is astounding. And we use this exceptionalism to distinguish ourselves from all other mammalian brothers and sisters. Want to hear how much we actually share with these animals? Listen to the Groundless Ground episode I recorded several years ago with Professor Kristen Andrews author of “Animal Minds”. It will blow your mind.

I finished my walk musing on my own penchant for meaning-making. How pattern recognition and superstition marry in my brain fooling me into believing I somehow made that skunk appear! Silly human.