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Happy new year! No, not on the Gregorian calendar, but the Asian lunar calendar. 2016 is the year of the monkey, and in the five elements cycle, it’s a yang fire year. What does this mean for us? Buckle up!

No, really. Buckle up. It’s going to be a rough ride.

The monkey’s personality, as an animal, is lively, active, mischievous, energetic. If you’ve ever spent any time watching monkeys at the local zoo, monkey energy is self-evident. Compare this to the relatively docile, almost boring energy of last year’s animal, the goat, and we get a sense of how different this year will be.

Yin and yang refers to the overall energy of the year. Is it rising or falling, growing or shrinking? A yang year is rising energy, a time when energy builds and grows. A yin year is falling energy, energy in decline or energy contracting. 2016 will be characterized by rising, growing energy.

The fire refers to the cycle of elements, earth, water, wood, fire, and metal. In Chinese, this is known as the Wu Xing; in Japanese, the gogyo. A fire year feeds off the energy of the previous wood year. A yin fire is the dying campfire after a night of roasting marshmallows. This year, 2016, is a yang fire, the blaze of a newly roaring fire with fresh fuel added. Wood begets fire and is consumed in the process. Fire also has a destructive aspect; in the cycle, it destroys metal, an element associated with insight and intellect.

Put these components together. What does rising, explosive energy and a mischievous animal combined yield? Imagine giving a toddler a triple espresso and a candy bar. Hilarity might ensue – but so might incredible destruction.

On the positive side, groundwork and plans we laid in the year of the yin wood goat, when things were quiet and docile, will come to fruition in the year of the yang fire monkey. Old growth burns away, lighting the way forward. Wood feeds fire.

On the negative side, fire’s heat fuels passions and intensity at the expense of rationality and intellect (metal). Any environment which is already contentious and incendiary will almost literally explode. Like becomes love, and dislike becomes hate. Fire melts metal.

What should you prepare for this year? Wood and water.

We can grow the intensity of our fire through the judicious application of more fuel: ideals, curiosity, stories, art, emotion.

We can also tamp down our fire’s intensity with water: logic, intellect, data, precision, rationality.

Our greatest danger will be getting swept up in others’ fires, in others’ passions and conflagrations, not realizing their fires are not ours unless we permit them to be.

Our greatest opportunity? The environment is ripe for fires to spread, so if you have a cause, a passion, a mission you want to catch on, this is the time to do it.

May your new year bring you health, prosperity, and happiness! Akemashite omedeto gozaimasu!


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