What exactly does 过年 (guònián) mean to you?
To me, Relooking at the character 过 today, it looks like a 寸 (cùn) on a boat sailing casually down the stream. Superficially, it looks like inching ahead with smoothness, and when we 过年 we go through the annual ritual of celebrating the Chinese tradition of honouring the mythical victory over defeating the monster 年. And so as tradition goes, we pull out all stops to acquire all we can afford, to eat, drink, play, gamble, throw parties, give huge Angpows, splurge, and light firecrackers to announce our joy to the world.
Is Life really that simple?
An old poly classmate's family has been suffering these past 2 years, her husband a victim of the GBS Raw Fish scandal.
Another old colleague from SGH days has been struggling with her old age frailness, while another from KKH days is dealing with progressive dementia.
And my own mother is coming to terms with kidney failure, rejecting dialysis and taking life one day at a time.
Each of us has one kind of suffering or another. Such is the condition of life on Earth, and we're all here to go through the human experience.
To be alive, is to be able to walk down the Path, cross over the hurdles, and pass through the challenges, till we reach the End of the Path, complete our Journey, and Rest.
So digging a little more on the word 过, I've almost forgotten it's in simplified form, and the ancient character looks like this:
Left radical (pronouced as chuo): 3 slashes on top for steps/paces, merged with 止 (zhi) for stop/halt = MOVE
Right radical (pronounced as kua/wai): 'twisted mouth' or like a whirlpool
So you can see, to be able to 过年 Guo Nian, is to be able to pass through a new year. To be able to surmount difficulties big or small, whether your life has many starts/stops, to pass a 'checkpoint' and mark a 'milestone' as an indicator of growth. Same as when we use the terms 过生日(pass birthday) 过节(pass festival eg. Passover) 过桥(pass bridge) 过马路(cross the road) 知过能改(know fault can change/overcome our mistakes).
Tonight, most families will be celebrating their passage of the year with lots of loudness, boisterousness, laughter, karaoke, even drunkenness, or simple joy, to be alive, to be able to REUNITE with their loved ones, REGROUP their life direction and options, REJUVENATE their spirits to take on the NEW YEAR with all the potential NEW CHALLENGES.
My wishes to you all celebrating the Lunar New Year, here in SG or any parts of the world, make your daily Passage like the red wheel 福 (fu) I've decorated my house with, and live 365 days of good fortune to be alive and well, as the ROOSTER crows every dawn, you must (in true SG fashion) WAKE UP YOUR IDEA and LIVE WELL.
Best of the Best to one and all,