Well, it's New Year's Eve here, at any rate. David and I were talking a bit last night about how crazy the next year is going to be with year 2000 stuff, and how annoying it's likely to get, and wouldn't it be nice to go to some country which used a completely different calendar in October or so and stay there for six months, just until the chaos is over. One of the Asian countries, perhaps, or Israel. Or maybe a small island, that doesn't really use a calendar at all. If I were rich, I'd be very tempted by that plan. On the other hand, I probably wouldn't want to miss the excitement. I'm the type of person who, if I were standing on the deck of a ship as a hurricane roared up out of nowhere, would really want to just tie myself to the ropes and stay up there. Almost certainly get myself killed. Darwin in action. Oh, I probably wouldn't do it, if it came down to it...I have an intensely practical side that would be fretting about making sure all the kids on the ship got into their cabins, etc. and so on...but I'd *want* to stay on the deck.
It's traditional to do a retrospective at this time of year, though I'm not sure if I've ever done one before, and I'm too lazy to go check. I was reading one of the other journals this morning, and she was saying that she didn't understand why people got excited about New Year's...specifically: "If the holiday has any meaning at all, it's a depressing one: another year of your life is gone by, and you're just that much closer to death....I don't think I'm the only one who feels this way, which is probably why New Year's parties always seem to have a underlying feeling of desperation. We must have a good time, damn it; once that clock strikes midnight, we'll have to write this year off as a complete waste of time."
What interests me about the above is that she then goes on to write a retrospective anyway, which I think really is the answer to her objection. Even if there's some sadness attached to time passing, some bitterness that it didn't all go the way you would have liked it to, we humans seem to feel the need to mark that time. Birthdays, anniversaries, New Year's. Every boundary is an ending, yes, but it's also a new beginning. Every chance lost has another new chance waiting beyond it.
I know I'm sounding like a Hallmark card, but I think this stuff is important. I think our society, and here I'm talking about modern Western society, has forgotten the importance of rituals to mark the passing of time. Lighting the solstice fire. Group sex in the fields on May Day. Harvest festivals. Oh, we still have some of the symbols, some of the family and friendly gatherings, but we don't think enough about why they're there.
Rejoice in the New Year. Make your resolutions and think about who you've been, and who you want to be. In addition to being a year older, you're also a year wiser. Time goes so fast...it's so easy to just grow and change without taking any control of the process. 'The unexamined life is not worth living.' This is a really good time to examine your life.
As for my resolutions...well, I could make the standard ones about losing some weight, exercising more, working harder, etc. and so on. I think I'm going to try something different this year -- I'm going to try to worry less. I tend to fret myself into a tizzy, over things I have very little immediate control over. It doesn't do me any good...and sometimes it actually hurts matters. So I'm going to try to stay calmer. And get my thyroid levels checked. And go to the dentist more regularly. (Happy, David?)
And maybe make fewer speeches. :-)