The Persistence of Complaining about Time
2011 is drawing to a close. In the annuls of recorded history this will be the first and last time this event will take place.
The passage of time is absolute but the way we mark it is arbitrary. Why don’t we mark the new year as happening on the solstice? Because we don’t. Yes, there are a lot of reasons why we mark time the way we do but in reality, we mark the passage of the year the way we do because we are used to marking it this way.
Also, I know that time is relative but just go with me here.
At the end of every year, there are those who take the calendar off the wall and say “good riddance” to the previous year because a lot of awful things happened that year. It is as if those awful things were the fault of that year. Do we blame a particular week? A particular month?
My dad died on October 19th, 1986. It would be easy for me to identify the year of 1986 as a “bad year” and certainly as a result of that one event, I certainly had a bad number of years. I can’t recall ever having blamed October 19th.
Lots of good things happened in 1986. Good things happened to me. Good things happened to others. Why should I blame 1986 for killing my father?
Yesterday was a pretty good day for me. I mean, I didn’t do anything special. I made a stir-fry for dinner. My kids and I watched Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I watched a crapton of “30 Rock.” The day is now over. I do not look to the next December 28th with great anticipation or dread.
But when a year ends, we feel the need to assess whether or not we are happy to be moving on or sad that it has gone.
To me, a new year means I made it another year. Through the good, bad and indifferent, I get to see what comes next.
I was asked by a therapist once if I ever have suicidal thoughts and the answer is no. Never. Because I don’t think that there is anything beyond this life we have, I am only too conscious of what I see in front of me and what I have the chance to see in the future. I want to know what is next.
I want to see the next Batman movie. I want to see the next mission to the moon. I want to see the kind of men my boys become. I want to see the first woman elected president. I want to see Lindsay Lohan finally fall into sweet, sweet obscurity. I want to see my gay friends finally be given the legal right to marry in every state in the union.
There are events that I dread. The death of a family member. Another terrorist attack on US soil. My kids having a hard time at school or a painful break up or becoming evangelical christians. Sarah Palin’s next book tour.
I don’t particularly want to experience those events but to miss them would be to miss everything.
Getting through another year – any year – is a victory to me. I personally resent that I only get 80 years (or so) to experience life. I’m pretty attached to it. I selfishly want as much of it as I can possibly have.
I lived through 2011. I lived through all the good things that happened last year. I also had to shovel as ass ton of snow and read about something like 248 Republican debates.
I have had some friends who got shit on in 2011. My point, I guess, is that it wasn’t 2011 doing the shitting any more than the turning of a clock from 12:00 to 12:01 will wipe away whatever shit remains.
A new year is not a reset button, no matter how much we may wish it was.
It does remind us, though, that we get to keep playing the game. We get to see what comes next. Bring it on.