Wednesday, December 30, 2015

My year-end stock-take

This is a longer blog than usual as befits the final summing-up of a year.

I always see the end of a year as a time to look back at the months that have passed and to try to fit them into the pattern of my life.  What, then, has 2015 brought me and taught me?

It has brought me much joy, and some sadness, from my family and friendships.  It has brought me introductions to many new writers, many of these in other languages I am familiar with, such as German, and renewed my interest in writers I have enjoyed in the past.  At the end of this blog I am listing some of my favourite reads of the year for anybody who, like me, is fascinated by the written word.

And what has it brought to my calling as acupuncturist?  After publishing my book, On Being a Five Element Acupuncturist, at the start of the year, I experienced a kind of mental blankness for some months.  I missed the feeling of being compelled to write by something inside me.  I continued with my blogs, but could find no central theme around which to build what might eventually become another book.  I struggled with this for some time until one day a friend told me that her son, not an acupuncturist, enjoyed reading my books because they taught him to understand human beings better, and that he was looking forward to reading more about the elements.  Somehow this stirred something in me to life, and I began to write odd bits and pieces, focusing on how I was developing new ways of interpreting my own reactions to the elements. I am continuing to do this, still with no particular structure in mind, but just darting here and there with my thoughts.  I trust that a structure will emerge at some point, as it did with my other books, and that the different pieces that I am now writing will in some miraculous way fuse themselves together into a book with which I will again hope to interest my lovely publishers, Singing Dragon Press.

Moving forward from my personal acupuncture-focused life to my more public life as a teacher, what of that?  Well, increasingly this now works on expanding what I am doing in China.  I have written before of how, much to my surprise, my work appears to have changed direction in the last few years, from an emphasis on helping five element acupuncturists in this country and Europe, to introducing it to China.  Increasingly now my task appears to be to continue adding to what I have so far achieved over there, which is a lot, indeed much, much more than I could ever have dreamt of when I first met my host, Liu Lihong, more than four years ago.  There must now be some few hundred Chinese acupuncturists who have come to our seminars and are venturing to start five element practices of their own.

This year-end also brings news of the Inauguration Ceremony of a Foundation of Traditional Chinese Medicine which is being set up in Beijing, with my contribution to this enshrined for perpetuity in a lovely certificate I was honoured to receive from Liu Lihong in April stating that I am a Consultant in Five Element Acupuncture to this Foundation for a period of 5 years until 31 December 2019.  Seeing this date on the certificate pointed me to further work that I need to do in the intervening years.  By the time we reach December 2019, I will, I assume, be well past the age when I will be of practical use as a teacher over there, although possibly still be a kind of five element figurehead to be wheeled out at intervals to remind people of the long five element lineage to which I am heir.

In China there are also moves afoot to translate more of my books (only one, my Handbook, is published in Mandarin).  My non-English-reading students are always clamouring to read the others in Mandarin.  I and my two regular companions, Mei Long and Guy Caplan, during our next planned visit to China in April 2016, will make our presence felt in Beijing to support the new Foundation there in addition to holding our usual seminar in Nanning.

So my stock-take for 2015 has shown me much that I can personally be very happy about.  It does a little to offset the news pouring in from around the globe of all the strife which human beings, alone of all the animals, seem to enjoy engaging in, and all the mostly man-made disasters bringing floods and famine to many parts of the globe.  I like to think, though, that what I can offer my patients, and encourage others to offer theirs, in some small way helps to contribute something important to the sum total of human happiness.

I wish all my readers a fulfilling and happy year to come when 2015 turns into 2016.


A few of my favourite books from my 2015 reading-list (D = Detective story):

Wade Shepard:  Ghost Cities of China
Jill Ciment:  Heroic Measures
Tom Drury:  The End of vandalism
Jenny Erpenbeck:  Wörterbuch (for my German readers)
Alexandra Fuller:  Don’t let’s go to the Dogs tonight
Robert Seethaler: A Whole Life
Elly Griffiths:  The Ghost Fields (D)
Atal Gawande:  Being Mortal
Ann Granger:  Dead in the Water (D)
Kent Haruf:  Our Souls at Night
Vaseem Khan:  The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra (D)
Attica Locke:  Pleasantville
G M Malliet:  Death and the Cozy Writer (D)
Alexander McCall Smith:  The Woman who walked in Sunshine
Robert Peston:  How do we fix this Mess?
Marilynne Robinson:  Gilead
Bapsi Sidhwa:  The Crow Eaters
W G Sebald:  Austerlitz
Magda Szabo:  Iza’s Ballad
Anne Tyler:  Searching for Caleb
Elizabeth Taylor:  A View of the Harbour
Fred Vargas: Dog will have its Day (D)
Anthony Trollope: Is he Popenjoy? 


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