I was sitting outside the other day, nursing the last few moments of a fifteen-minute break from work, just watching the traffic flow by, when my phone vibrated in my hand.
I looked down to see a text message from my wife, letting me know that she had two hours to kill between appointments and wondering if I needed anything.
In the second it took to ponder my response, I felt the huge weight of all the things that I need to get done over the next few weeks suddenly looming over me.
“I need those two hours! Just pack ‘em up and we’ll use them later.”
I waited a few seconds to see if she’d respond to my little joke, and then I went back to work.
I’d run out of free time.
We have some funny notions about time.
We do our best to borrow and save and steal it, as if it were some tangible resource that we could collect and hold on to. It is not.
Our scientists and statisticians study and measure it, seeking to quantify it and gain some measure of control. We have none.
And with increasing frequency, we personify it, assigning to it both motive and malice.
This last year of the Common Era, 2016, seemed for many, to have provided both terrible events and heartbreaking loss in a greater than normal abundance. The response to this, among the mostly Christian population of North America, has been to dance right past the standard platitudes regarding their own supposedly omnipresent and omnipotent deity and his grand plan for everything, and instead to spew their frustrations upon the year itself.
It wasn’t all that long ago that I pointed out how woefully out of practice this society is when it comes to idolatry. There could be no better example than that of these last few months, wherein we’ve once again ignored a whole army of perfectly serviceable gods and goddesses, preferring instead to invent a new one upon which to vent our collective spleen.
The road back to Polytheism will surely be filled with unexpected twists and turns, but this…,
People got mad at a unit of time, and a few nights ago they celebrated its death – with the same fervor I’d expect in a blood sacrifice.
Those who Spin and Measure and Cut must be rocking with laughter.
To the vast disappointment of all the numerologists in the crowd, the numbers are completely arbitrary and don’t mean anything.
Which year was it, that was our dread enemy?
AD 2016 is the popular choice – but that’s what exactly, two thousand and sixteen years after the birth of a fellow who may have been the hebrew messiah, or entirely fictional, or possibly both. And what scant evidence we have suggests that we missed the mark by no less than a half a dozen years. So that number is pretty meaningless.
There are other suspects, but they’re not much better…,
It has been 2769 years since the Founding or Rome in the old calendar. But that date was also selected several hundred years after the fact and is an extremely rough approximation, so…,
Maybe we should blame 4714 of the Chinese Calendar. The Year of the Monkey sounds like something given to causing a lot of trouble. But if that’s the case we’d better hold onto our hats, because we are still under the gun until January 28th when the Rooster takes over.
And I suppose old 5776 on the Hebrew Calendar could be a likely enough suspect. But this one is supposed to be counting up from the year the following the Creation of the Heavens and the Earth as depicted in the Book of Genesis, which I find pretty weird, seeing as I’ve personally visited ruins that are at least that old and geologic sites that are tens of millions of years older.
The year is a figment of our imagination. It is a crude attempt to force time into a bottle.
But the truth is that Two-Thousand and Sixteen didn’t kill anyone, didn’t elect anyone, didn’t bomb anyone, or starve them, or spray them with rubber bullets…,
We did those things.
And we will keep doing them until we learn not to.
And if our past is any guide to the future, the numbers on the calendar won’t make a damn bit of difference along the way.
We lost some amazing people recently, Carrie and David and Prince and what seems like a thousand others, bright and powerful souls who touched our lives. Our hearts ache with their passing, but there is no need to cast blame. The pain we suffer is the sacrifice we offer up for the privilege of knowing them. And my gods, the price is worth it, because I can’t imagine what our lives might have been like without them!
Nothing ended at midnight on December 31st. Nothing began at 12:01am.
The Earth continues upon its path around the Sun.
The Fates work diligently upon the threads of our lives.
And time keeps moving.