Saturday, January 1, 2011

Thoughts on the New Year

        Red asked me to write a message for the start of the new year...and I have been trying to think of something meaningful to say on the subject. My mind pretty much wandered over the usual things, like starting anew, resolutions, and all such things that I suppose most people consider at this time of year.
But then I got to thinking of things a tad broader, and perhaps more philosophical (or annoying?). Like, how do we really know what year this is? According to whose calendar? Calendars, after all, have been changed and adjusted over time, and vary from culture to culture. Many religions follow a separate calendar with other dates as "new year" markers, along with various traditions, festivities etc.
      Which leads to more questions... like, how does anyone know if any of these calendars are right? There are all kinds of accounts of ancient peoples and their star gazing accuracy, predictions and so forth. All the hype over the so-called "end of the world" coming thanks to the Mayan calendar, which presumably will stop counting time as of late 2012. I'm quite willing to bet there will be as much disappointment over that day coming and going as we experienced back with the Y2K scare. Which, incidentally, was out by a year anyway, as there was no acknowledged "year zero" in the Judeo-Christian calendar (the BC/AD thing, or, if you prefer, BCE and CE now) so therefore the new millenium actually started on January 1, 2001 - you need a full 1000 years to get there, you see. But, I digress.
       Back to the end of the world... likely more anticipation leading to a whole lot of nothing. And just imagine the disappointment and confusion for all those folks who were so counting on that day to be the end...and not being at all prepared for the next day when it comes! No disaster, no doom and gloom. What a letdown to see all the gadgets of the world carrying and functioning, and all these people going about minding their own business like any other day.
       Maybe the Mayans just ran out of space, or figured that working up to 2012 was pretty far enough into the future for their purposes, and left the rest to generations to come (who, of course, didn't - did they see that coming??) to figure out. Seems as silly as thinking that when your "modern" wall calendar is done on December 31st, there's nothing more to follow.
      This, of course, just leads me further into my questioning of time and our relationship to it. Certainly today doesn't feel different than yesterday. I don't feel different. It's much like your birthday; it's supposed to feel special, but somehow it just ends up another day. My dog certainly has no sense of any of this. The fact that we (struggled!) to stay up to midnight for a toast with our friends was completely lost on little Maggie; she had abandoned us for a comfy bed hours before we finally called it a night. She seems no worse today for having done so. I'm pretty sure a lot of people can't claim the same this morning! ;)
        In the end, yes, it's lovely to have another "new year" with new beginnings, where at least another 365 days of possibilities lie ahead, and there are things both known and unknown to look forward to. But for all the excitement and celebration, I do have to wonder how and why we are so tied to this strange certainty of time and place, when we really have no valid reference point to work from. And does it really matter in the end?
       Ah well, I need to get my new 2011 calendar up on the fridge, and start planning ahead for all the things that need to be done this year. Enjoy what you have, while you have it, whenever you may be!!