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1 January 2018

1 January 2018
Happy New Year.  2017 had been rewarding to me at the personal level; aside from two family celebrations, my favorite writer was crowned Nobel Prize winner; my favorite crime novel was made into its fifth all-cast movie version, in addition to everything happy at school.  Of course, there are happenings we feel sad about, or tasks that we did not do well.  But the good ones, outshining the unhappy ones, tell us that perseverance and diligence do make a difference.
I am profoundly affected by the American Transcendentalists Emerson and Thoreau. The latter one wrote Walden (1854) on his experience on living frugally alone, tasting only the essentials in life, reflecting on his weaknesses, and returning to civilization as a better person: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion. … I left the woods for as good a reason as I went there. Perhaps it seemed to me that I had several more lives to live, and could not spare any more time for that one.”
Thoreau decided to pay it forward. Indeed, there are times we take from others, but we will definitely be paying back, or contributing, in another fashion to the society. This cause-and-effect type of thinking and action pushes the society to go forward. If every individual just took from others and refused to participate actively for others, the society would dry out soon.  One thing we refused to do, or did not do, when we were younger, we probably are paying for it now; otherwise, others are paying for it in our behalf, that is, we are still taking advantage of others.  The easiest concepts are the no-fibre diet or no-exercise lifestyle; one will quickly see how such a lifestyle affects his everyday life, and / or people around him.  So is every choice we make in life, someone will be forced to pick up the pieces for us if we are not considerate.
Civilization in the future will suffer if we are not conscientious now.  So at the beginning of a year, it is important we realize our duty to ourselves and to others. When we consider it as a whole, we will be able to live a better life now, because we know we are also investing for our own future.
Anson Yang