Indeed, the parting year of 2009 has been a traumatic time for all of us Thais as a nation, and for many individually and personally. If anything, it has taught us that once the reservoir of collective happiness is depleted, no individual joy can ever fill it up. There is always a little empty corner in the heart that is so barren; it makes its presence felt even when you look away.
If the US was once a Prozac nation - named after a popular antidepressant drug - Thailand could be called a Xanax nation - after the potent anti-anxiety medication.
As the year is passing, here are some parting words to share….
The real champion of the poor and the downtrodden in Thailand is not any politician, it is His Majesty the King.
Politics is not the same as values, but few can escape its realm and fury.
Try not to tell people who just lost a loved one that the deceased is in a "better place". We do not know it; no one does. The words are vacuous.
Try not to tell people who are suffering or falling to the bottom of the pit of misfortune that "this too shall pass". These words do not make sense to the one experiencing pain and misery that seems to them everlasting. Perhaps all they need is for someone to throw down a rope so they can climb up. It is called compassion. Remember that most people in that pit of despair can never climb back out alone. They need some help. And everybody deserves that help. US General George Patton (1885-1945) said success is how high you bounce after you've hit bottom. But a fact of life is that at the bottom, there is never a trampoline waiting.
Everything in life we think we own is never ours; we just rent it.
Lies and rumours are more believable than truth and facts. They proliferate faster than rabbits or computer viruses. Learn to live with them no matter how hard they are to swallow.
Decency, honesty, understanding and friendship are always there, somewhere, maybe over the rainbow, but they do exist. Do not lose faith in them. Give them to others when you have a chance. They need them as much as you do. And contrary to what and how you may judge or believe others to be, all human beings, of all colours, deserve to receive these basic human virtues.
Patience and hard work are old-fashioned values and may appear outdated, but when push comes to shove, they can protect you from an unwarranted elimination process - sometimes.
There is nothing so absurd that someone has not said it.
Forgiveness is much more difficult to achieve in the heart, not only in the head. But we owe it to ourselves to get there if we do not want to carry the load of bitterness around all of our life.
There are few virtues greater than kindness. People do not always return kindness in kind, but it's precious and it makes the world go around. Everybody has his or her fair share of bad luck and cruel treatment; kindness can cure the deepest wounds.
Try to judge yourself as harshly as you judge others. The world might be a better and peaceful place because of it.
Love is always overrated, but that does not diminish it.
A so-called fair competition is never fair as long as there is no level playing field.
When you are down in the dumps and your ship is sinking, people will desert you, no matter how much love and gratitude they profess to have towards you. Learn to live with it.
There may be seven "ups" in our lifetime as the old Thai adage goes, but usually there are more than seven "downs". Learn to live with that too.
Death and the prospect of it may have lost its relevance to some, but it comes to everybody, naturally and unnaturally. Impermanence offers both hope and despair.
Books give us wings, and art brings nourishment to the soul.
Sometimes we unwittingly hurt the very person we try to protect. Perhaps we have tried too hard. Balance is a very thin line we often miss.
Lastly, in the current social and moral narrative in which we live, if someone slaps you on one cheek, do not turn the other. Run for your life.
So as we bid the old year goodbye, be thankful for every day in it, no matter how bad it was. For good or for evil, happy or treacherous, those days taught us lessons and provided for the real meaning of the New Year. It's another chance for us to get it right.