It is now, according to the Chinese calendar, the year of the rat, the first creature who arrived to greet Buddha. My husband was born in a “rat” year, and I have to say that had it been up to him to get to the Buddha, the rat would be the last of the twelve symbols, not the first. My husband is never early to anything unless drug out of the house by me. Even then it is hard; I usually tell him we have to be somewhere earlier than we do just so we can be ready to leave when I want to.
The rat is said to be kind, considerate, and intelligent. My husband qualifies in those categories. It is also believed that rats and dragons, another calendar character, get along well. Seems to be so as I was born in a “dragon” year. It was, though, a water dragon, so I am milder than some other dragons. My students, and some of my friends, would say, however, that I can definitely be a fire-breathing dragon if provoked. The element of water though cools me off pretty quickly, and I don’t hold grudges. My rat husband and his dragon wife have managed to live peacefully now for 33 years, so maybe there is something to that Chinese calendar.