Cover Story: Shine

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Austin All Natural Yes, I’m a sack of broken eggs I always have an unmade bed Don’t you
– Rolling Stones, Monkey Man

Well… don’t you?
If not, get ready – February 8 kicks off the Year of the Fire Monkey on the Chinese calendar. The Monkey is a mischief-maker who can break a sack of eggs and mess up a bed quicker than anyone else, and the Fire Monkey is the most outrageous and free- spirited member of the clan.

Chinese Calendar 101 – the refresher course.
The Buddha, so the story goes, called a get-together of all the animals, and twelve of them showed up, each getting a year named in their honor that would exhibit their particular characteristics. (The Rat hitched a ride on the back of the Ox and jumped off and ran ahead so he’d be first.)

Each critter’s year would also be influenced by one of the Five Elements – Fire, Water, Earth, Metal, and Wood – that would modify it a bit. Each animal pops up once every twelve years, and each specific elemental animal every sixty years. The next Monkey Year, then, is 2028, and next Fire Monkey year is 2076, in case you’re making plans for a reunion or something.

Got all that?
Sounds complicated – but keep reading. It gets better. The Chinese calendar is solar and lunar, and the year commences on a different date in January or February each year, based on the length of time that transpires between the first new moon and the shadow of a swallow returning to Capistrano falling on a certain brick in the Great Wall of China, or some such. (No wonder their stock market’s tanking.)

If you’re born in January or February, btw, better dig a little deeper than your Moo Goo Gai Pan-stained placemat at the Chinese buffet to figure out your animal persuasion – could be the difference between being an Ox or a Rat.

Broken eggs and unmade beds.

Monkeys are clever, creative little guys who sometimes make a mess of things in the creative process. The Monkey King is a major character in Chinese folklore – a rascal, a magical Robin Hood whose intentions are good but whose methods can be a little disruptive at times.

Disruption is the key to Monkey years, and disruption, while not necessarily for the faint of heart, isn’t always a bad thing. You have to break a few eggs, the saying goes, to make an omelet – and anything done right in a bed probably ought to mess it up a bit.

2016, then, is shaping up as a year of vastly entertaining chaos. (Just take a look at the presidential campaign.) There is, of course, opportunity in chaos – although the old motivarional speaker’s standby, the one where the Chinese character for chaos or crisis is made up of the characters for danger and opportunity, is bogus. (Probably made up by a Monkey.) Whether you’re of the dive in and get messy persuasion, or the make your move while the smoke’s clearing persuasion, 2016 might just be your cup of Monkey wine.

1K away.
If you have the constitution for it, Fire Monkey years are said to be good for unique startups and out-of the-box ventures. When old institutions and ideas are disrupted, the door’s wide open for new ones – and Money is just 1K away from Monkey, right?

Monkey years are flamboyant and yang to the core, a time when words speak loud and actions speak louder. To give you an idea, Monkeys of note include da Vinci, LBJ, both Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, Elizabeth Taylor, Little Richard, and that ol’ Monkey Man himself – Mick Jagger. The meek may inherit the Earth one day, (although they’ll be afraid to come claim it) but it probably won’t be this year. Drop your quarter in the slot and hang on tight – 2016 promises to be a wild ride, and a good time to shine.

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Austin All Natural

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