If you would sum up this year in a word, what word would it be?
Ever since 1995, a Chinese character that sums up the year has been announced on this day in my homeland. This year, it was the character meaning “gold” or “money” – “gold” for the gold medals our compatriot athletes won at the Olympic and Paralympic Games and athletes like this one setting golden records, and “money” for domestic money-related news such as the introduction of negative interest rate policy by our national bank and misuse or misappropriation of public funds by politicians.
Interestingly, this character is the only one chosen multiple times in the history of this event. As the other times it was chosen were also Olympic and Paralympic years, I am guessing that my people are very much impressed by the hard work and the resultant achievements of athletes around the world at the Games, and/or wish these impressions to last so they can turn away from all other not-so-impressive happenings.
Another interesting point I noticed is that the chosen characters are not always associated with good memories of the year. In fact, it seems to me that about one-third of the characters chosen in the past are clearly reminiscent of natural and man-made disasters, and another one-third or so are reminders of our fears and worries about the ever-changing world.
Scientific research on the brain and memory suggests that we tend to remember bad times better than good. It is said that this bias exists because it has been evolutionarily advantageous to remember dangerous, fearful events to increase the chance of survival. But it can also be debilitating to keep conjuring up the memories and emotions of dangerous, fearful events, even after they have passed.
So, although I was a little disappointed that we could not come up with a new choice of character for this year, I am nevertheless happy that we have chosen one which has associations to good memories.
Maybe it is easier for us to remember the bad times, and feel sorry for ourselves.
But maybe that does not mean we had no good times in between the memorable bad times.
Maybe they were not as impressive on our minds to be recalled easily, but I am quite certain they were what got us through the bad times.
Then, maybe it is worth remembering the good times, no matter how tiny and faint their memories are.
My choice of the character for this year? The one meaning “to be” and “in purest form,” which also have meanings “to be born,” “to be lively,” and “to learn” and “to grow.” These are all the things I have done here this year.
I felt like tatting today’s piece in lively colours, partly to overcome my fear and worries of long chains and many picots – I was able to have a surprisingly good time, but maybe I had forgotten that it is a snowflake pattern…?!