Thursday, January 18, 2007

A New Year, a (belated) New Beginning

The comedian Lewis Black stated in his "Goodbye to 2006" Comedy Central Special that time is an illusion; the recording of time (minutes, days, weeks, years, etc.) is something we humans made up to keep track of things, and doesn't really exist. I've always believed this fundamental truth, all you need to do is count how many "calendars" exist in the world today. For starters, look at the dates created just for new years: there's the standard Catholic New Year, the Chinese New Year, the Jewish New Year, and I'm sure several others not commonly known. Who's to say which one is 'correct'? The answer: none of them are. They're all fabrications surrounding events in each cultures history, and have no real bearing on what goes on in physical world. Yes, technically a 'year' is the time it takes the Earth to circle around the sun, but the "New Year" could have been set at any point, and weeks and months were just convenient ways to divy up the time between now and the next time the Earth is here.
Case in point: Birthdays. Birthdays are randomly selected for you. They can happen on any day. When people ask, "How does it feel to be so-and-so?", usually at the milestone 18, 21, 30, or 50 year marks, do they really expect an answer such as, "Well, Bob, yesterday I was fine, things were going great, life was good... as SOON as 4:28pm rolled around on my 30th birthday my pancreas exploded, my left arm doesn't work anymore, and my hair hurts. Damn it feels aweful being 30, but thanks for asking." Chances are it feels EXACTLY the same as being 29. So why ask? Because human beings have this need to set time markers; hell, we created time as a measurable element, why not utilize it as such. When people ask how it feels to be 30, they're not talking physically; rather the question can be reworded "how do you feel about your life at 30? Is it where you expected to be? Have you fullfilled all the goals you set to have accomplished by 30?" Nothing physical actually happens on the day of your birthday to make it feel any different than the day before.
Another example of marking time: New Year's, more specifically New Year's resolutions. Any one of us at any time can decide to go on a diet, why wait until January 1st? Somehow it makes it all official, giving us a hard line in the sand that says, from this point ON I will eat better, exercise more, not kick puppies, etc... Plus, let's be honest, it allows us a buffer zone to splurge until then. I always found it amusing that December 31st and January 1st are just two regular days next to each other, most of the time just thrown somewhere in the middle of the week, yet everyone's mindset changes drastically from "the end of a year, out with the old" to "the beginning of a brand new year" along with the hopes and dreams that somehow this new year will be better than the last. Again, nothing actually physically changes. In fact, we don't even celebrate it at the same time on this planet, rather we take turns in 1/24th divisions as each time zone floats past the imaginary 12 midnight mark. Hell, most people have broken their New Years resolutions before the rest of the planet even gets there.
As for me, I too have a marker coming up. No, it's not New Year's, and it's not a birthday; for me, the date I eagerly await as the start of a new era and chapter in my life is January 25. If you don't already know, I've had two jobs for the past 9 years, not including all the freelance and occasional wedding work for my dad. Last year I resolved to leave my night job in an effort to get my life back, and last week my 2-weeks notice was handed in. The significance of this is simple: I was tired of using that job as an excuse for not having time for life's other duties. Whether it was not spending time with friends and family, not going food shopping, not entering a blog entry, or simply not being able to do laundry, I finally got fed up with feeling as though my entire life was rushed going from one job to another, and I was getting burnt out. Recently I refinanced my apartment and took the extra money to pay of my gigunda credit card bill, and now I can finally say I'm debt free, and no longer in need of working 65 hours a week. It feels good. But what does this all mean? Well, first off, it means I'll have alot more time during the week to see the people in my life. It means I'll be able to exercise more and hopefully control my high cholesterol and get in shape. It also means I hope to have more frequent blog entries submitted, of better quality. So you see, everybody wins! I know I haven't been the best friend/family member/blog author the past few years, if only because of my inaccessibility, but I hope to rectify that with my own belated New Years Resolution: to finally gain control of my life and enjoy as much of it as I can. Because between January 25th and 26th, something DOES change, something IS very different; I will have my life back. I hope to make the most of it; only time will tell.

4 comments:

Seabass said...

Bravo! Well put my friend, I've always felt the same way about time and how we as humans try to control it. But you forgot the most important thing, now you'll have more time to kil, mame and torture more innocent souls online. ;-)

Steve said...

I definitely agree with you on New Year's Eve and the resolutions and all that stuff. Aside from being an excuse to get together and see friends, New Year's is WAY overrated. And I actually kind of despise the whole "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve" or whatever they call those 6 hours of celebration and ball-droppin' they do on TV. I mean...who CARES? Apparantely many, but not I!

I do, though, as your resident "thymenage" phrase-coiner, have to weigh in on some other things here...

[[[ that time is an illusion; the recording of time (minutes, days, weeks, years, etc.) is something we humans made up to keep track of things, and doesn't really exist. ]]]]

Though I love Lewis Black's observations, this one I'd have to comment on. Time itself is NOT an illusion. Time is real. Hard to grasp, perhaps, but there has to be someway to explain that the moment when I typed the words behind this current word is not what is currently here. Don't make me start referencing the original Thymenage essays that discuss this concept at full!

Now, as for the fact that the way we record it is something made up by humans, that's entirely true. BUT! It is also entirely necessary. After all, that "made up by humans" accusation kind of describes a whole lot of things, right? What about language? Language doesn't mean shit. It's just stuff we humans made up to describe and document stuff that's already out there no matter if we call it something or not. The thing we call a "cat" exists whether we choose to make up a name or not. But in order to differentiate and make it clear to others that we're, indeed, refernecing the four-legged thing that meows and not the one that barks or, for that matter, the thing inside a Snickers bar, we make up words like "cat," "dog," and "peanut." Yeah, and in Spain, they call 'em "gatto," "perro," and "cacahuete." So, multiple languages, multiple calendars...so what? Having only one common one would be ideal, but as long as you know other people who follow the same road map as you, then it's a good thing to at least have that map, in my opinion.


[[[ When people ask how it feels to be 30, they're not talking physically; rather the question can be reworded "how do you feel about your life at 30? Is it where you expected to be? Have you fullfilled all the goals you set to have accomplished by 30?" Nothing physical actually happens on the day of your birthday to make it feel any different than the day before. ]]]

This is all true. And yes, there is a sense of silliness about implying that being 30 is particularly different from being 29 & 364 days. However, is there a difference—physically or emotionally—between being 30 and 15? Definitely! So the importance of naming and identifying age is not something that has it's benefit in micro managing. You need to look at a larger swatch of time to see why we need to label stuff. If you were to say to me today, "When you were younger, did you used to....(fill in your own question here.)" Before I answered the question, I'd likely have to ask you to add a more specific label than "younger." Because the answer for 30-year-old Steve might often be different than the answer for 15-year-old Steve. 30-year-old Steve vs. 29/364 Steve or even plain old 29 Steve? Not so much difference there.

This all points to why we have to respect the time keepers, but also look with a bigger picture. To me, 1990 had more in common with the 80s than it did with the 90s, even though it was part of the latter and not of the former. And January 1, 2007 likely had more in common with any day in December of 2006 than it will to a day in the summer of 2007, even though they're both "2007." Get it? We need to look at the time differentiation as markers in the road, but they're all connected.

And we need to not get so hung up on the minute ("my-noot," not "min-nut") differences. Your watch says 10:04, mine says 10:07. We could fight about it or we could just agree it's a little bit after 10:00. What's important is that we both know it's not 3 in the afternoon.

[[[ It also means I hope to have more frequent blog entries submitted ]]]

Yup, and I'll probably have fewer! You know...the whole "family responsibility" thing...

[[[[ I will have my life back. I hope to make the most of it; only time will tell. ]]]]

Congratulations. Glad to hear it. You'll have to come on over and hang out more. Bring your suit and tie.

Paul G. said...

Steve, as usual you take my jumbled mess of random thoughts and elaborate to a level I never could. =)

First off, I think Mr. Black's comment about time wasn't literally (there's that word again) about time itself, but the way (and the reasons why) we measure it. Sure, the "illusion" label can be applied to many other aspects of life, such as language, human rights, the concept of law & right vs. wrong, and yes, religion, but the point he was making, being it was a show about the New Year, was the futility of saying, "OK, from THIS point to THIS point is going to be better than the last 'this point to this point'..." It's ALL crap in his opinion. Well, what can you expect, it's Lewis Black. However, even he points out the necessity of gauging and marking time; in his example, because we can't be hanging with our friends on the corner and suddenly say, "I'll meet you back here tomorrow, when the sun is over THERE", pointing to the sky.

Secondly, the reason I brought it up was really to contrast the idea of a 'New Year's resolution' based off an imaginary point in time, which always struck me as funny, to the actual hard-data event in MY life to which I'm anchoring MY resolution off of. You see, I have no choice but to wait until January 25 before partaking in activities requiring any amount of time, so to me, it makes sense to say, "OK, from THIS point on I will make THESE major changes in my lifestyle." I will now have time to exercise, I will now have time to attend dinner with friends, I will now have time to blog.

For the record, I did second guess using the 'time is an illusion' quote, knowing that technically it is not correct, but figured (or hoped) no one would call me on it. I should have known better.

{{{{And yes, there is a sense of silliness about implying that being 30 is particularly different from being 29 & 364 days. However, is there a difference—physically or emotionally—between being 30 and 15? Definitely! So the importance of naming and identifying age is not something that has it's benefit in micro managing. You need to look at a larger swatch of time to see why we need to label stuff. If you were to say to me today, "When you were younger, did you used to....(fill in your own question here.)" Before I answered the question, I'd likely have to ask you to add a more specific label than "younger." Because the answer for 30-year-old Steve might often be different than the answer for 15-year-old Steve. 30-year-old Steve vs. 29/364 Steve or even plain old 29 Steve? Not so much difference there.}}}}

Yes, absolutely correct. But it still strikes me funny when someone asks the inevitable "how does it feel" question, as it does when someone states that "once you turn 30, your metabolism slows down" or "your sex drive decreases" or any number of other ailments occur. as if there's tiny little bundles of explosives set to go off in your body after 10,943 days (yes, I accounted for leap years... I just know someone would call me on that too!) Even better is when an acquaintance accuses some company of having such precision control over their manufacturing processes as to have the ability to build a product which will completely break down precisely a day or even a week after the warranty expires, as if the car, or computer, or toaster KNOWS it's been exactly 3 years, 1 year, or 90 days, respectively.

{{{{Your watch says 10:04, mine says 10:07. We could fight about it or we could just agree it's a little bit after 10:00. What's important is that we both know it's not 3 in the afternoon.}}}}

This statement quite frankly shocked me, coming from you. I mean, what if I wanted to take two photographs, one being the last picture of 2006, the other being the first picture of 2007, but my camera's internal clock was 4 minutes off..... The timestamps would both say Dec. 31st, 2006 and everyone else would wonder why I took 2 of the same picture! Alright, so that's a stretch, the point is, for a person who wrote an entire entry on the inconsistency of Blogger's timestamping, (Dredging up the past) I would not have expected this from you.

{{{{but there has to be someway to explain that the moment when I typed the words behind this current word is not what is currently here.}}}}

Ouch. My brain hurts.

One last thought: The whole birthday scenario actually complements your blog entry on age and accountability...( Age Blame) - the notion that it's not the actual age that you should look at when judging a person's actions, but his experiences and the ability to 'learn' from them. Getting caught shoplifting as a kid is just foolish kids stuff.... getting caught 12 more times is just retarded, no matter what the age.

Michelle Lee said...

New Years Eve into Day really is just another night. Just another midnight.

Turning 30 is just another 24 hours older than 29.

But, step into my world for a minute. Imagine, if you will, turning 30 AND encountering a new year all at the same time.

It's a bit of an emotional overload sometimes.

{Especially on those milestone birthdays. Then add something really heavy into it like New Years going into 2000. Who ever knew we would live this long??}

The meloncholy. The reflection. The where has my life gone? Where is my life going? The holy shit I just got older and so did the universe. The joy that I made it through another year and that I have terrific friends to share it with.

It may all seem like just another day to you, but to me, it's life.

Literally.

Yes. I am one of those sappy saps that feels the emotions they sell us each year.

{Although, I still don't know why we insist on watching those HORRIBLE countdown shows. They just keep on getting worse and worse. Meatloaf creeped me out, and if you know me at all, it takes A LOT to creep me out.}

... and that's all I have to say about that...

until next year, of course.