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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Year in the Life

Oh goody, a new year. What are the expectations now, I wonder. I think it's just another number, and numbers are interchangeable. So is 2008 really "over"? And did we just "begin" a new year? The weather this week isn't a whole lot different than it was the week before. I'm rather dubious. I think someone's trying to sell us something, a la trends and styles, but that's just me.

I've been in the '08 mode for so long, I'm not quite used to this '09 shtick. I think it takes about six months for it to sink in, but by then it's almost time to change again. David Letterman pointed out one time that with the Chinese New Year changing to the year of the rat, it really messed him up because he'd become so accustomed to writing the year of the tiger on his checks. Ah, the problems we face.

Changing decades is even more momentous. In another year we'll start the '10s, and that will seem like a big jump. We're getting rid of a lump of ten years all at once, and welcoming in another ten. Is that a commitment you'll be ready to take on? All of us here not only had the unique opportunity to change a century eight years ago, but also a whole millennium. From my rough calculations, probably only about 5% of all people get to see a millennium change in their lifetimes. But one year at a time here...

We probably look for excuses to refresh our mental batteries, so we gravitate to occasions on the calendar. We are enamored with the idea of starting over. People say 2008 wasn't that good, so let's throw it out and move past it. We hardly knew ye, '08. And yet back on Dec. 31, 2007, we were celebrating 2008 like it was the best thing since... well, 2007. But now that it's over, we kick it to the curb like a worn-out rag. Take that, 2008, you old, good-for-nothing sorry batch of frothing, fermented four seasons! You're old news. You're past your time and you've worn out your welcome. We've seen plenty like you and we'll see plenty more... So there.

In light of all this, how do you think that makes 2009 feel? It sees how we treated 2008, and it knows that it's next. 2009 is shaking in its boots right now, knowing that if it doesn't perform beyond expectations, it will soon be a has-been. That's a lot of pressure for a year to be operating under. It might panic and make the Cubs the World Series winners. Or it could be like 2008 and cause global warming to make us colder. We need to give these years their space so they don't wig out like that.

If we're to be intellectually honest about how we treat the years, we shouldn't celebrate them ahead of time, but wait until they've had a chance to show what they've got. Let them prove themselves on their own time, without all the build-up. Besides, what is a New Year's celebration about? Is it about great unrealized hopes and getting rid of the past? If that's the case, then it's the most idealistic holiday we have. Our celebration is of wishful thinking, not knowing what it is we're celebrating. Here's to celebrating!

I do like those occasions on the calendar where we remember things that have happened in our memories, and put ourselves back in those situations. I really think that re-living is a part of living. Anniversaries are a chance to reflect, and that gives us a backdrop for increased perspective. But January 1st is nothing special. Just because it got to be the first in line doesn't make it better than the 2nd, or the 22nd. Double-digit numbers have feelings too!

So now I've got this whole empty slate of days over the next 12 months. It's a little too much to consider all at once. What am I supposed to fill all those days up with? Every one of them will have me in it, doing something. What will I be doing on October 13th of this year, for example? Right now, I could schedule anything I wanted on that day. The flexibility is there.

You know, that sure is a lot of control to have. Could we do that for the whole year, perhaps? Can I do whatever I want this year? Can I schedule to reach my dreams on June 24th? Could I become transformed on March 4th? Could I achieve permanent bliss on August 30th? How about if I save the world on April 19th? No, better make it the 18th, so it can be on a Saturday. Anyway, there's nothing scheduled in those days right now. Hmmm.... What could I fill them up with? Like the song says, it makes me wonder.

Here's your year, at your beck and call. Do with it what you may...


JaeJay said...

Interesting take on New Year's. I like that my year is as yet unplanned, beyond next wednesday. Makes it interesting.

Anonymous said...

Oh, look. You moved your comments to the bottom. Where they should be. Thanks for that!

This was silly and fun. I relate to the feeling of falseness about a "new year". The new year for me really begins on my birthday.

Florence said...

This was a great post. I really enjoyed it!

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