Time is a fascinating measurement. Leaving aside the physics/metaphysics argument of whether or not time actually exists, the time of day or year governs how we relate to the world. I’m not talking about the regulation of our days – time to rise, get to work, take a break, etc. I’m more fascinated with time as an imprint that causes us to reflexively do certain things.
Take this time for instance: The New Year. It starts usually in mid-December when the media begins to slowly work “Retrospective” stories into their content as their writers start hitting the exits for vacation. By the the time we get to the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, there are few original stories to be found. Gradually, the media and all the rest of us shift from retrospectives to resolutions: The things we’re going to do in the coming year.
Some people haunted by the thought of a “New Year’s Resolution” because to make a new resolution inevitably means they have to look back at what wasn’t accomplished in the past year. Many simply refuse to look back. What’s obscured by the dark of the future is much more comforting that what is shown by the light of the past. The future has potential: To be better, faster, more exciting, full of real achievements and maybe even a surprise or two. The past is starkly different. It’s all out in the glaring open. And if you’re the type of person with rabbit ears – that amazing ability to focus on the one failure even among many great successes – then the past is something you’d avoid more than root canal without novocaine.
Of course, the majority of ancient wisdom is in agreement that the best thing to do is to focus on the present. We should simply be aware of our existence today, the amazing, tumultuous, entertaining multiplicity of the moment. If you are someone who can do that, then certainly thank whatever deity, person, or situation led you to that ability.
Giving in to the time of year that prompted this blog piece in the first place, I am looking forward to many things in the New Year: A first novel coming out. A new semester of teaching (or three). A new president being elected (not that there’s anything wrong with the old one, but please, anything to end this seemingly endless and insane election cycle). A new baseball season. A new challenge or two.
All of which pricks up the ears of the writer in me. What does this time of year cause in a person with neophobia? This constant talk of new, new, new must drive them crazy. Hopefully, they can take refuge in the fact that it’s what we do every year at this time, so it’s hardly a new experience.