So what’s the deal with New Years? Allow me my little blogging soapbox on this, the first of 2008.
Today allegedly signifies something more than the need for an unblemished calendar on the fridge, more than a slight-to-severe morning hangover and a day spent inside watching one or another reality show marathon. The dawn of a brand-spanking new year (assuming we’re going by the traditional Gregorian calendar) changes that final digit of the date, a progression of more than just numerical significance, apparently. This is what we’re supposed to think. This is what Ryan Seacrest wants you to think.
Why the arbitrary tradition? People need something to hold onto. That’s what annual holidays are for, and it’s why people fill metropolises for fireworks and revelry, noisemakers and booze. We do it because we always do it, and damnit, we’re not going to change now, or else the terrorists will really have won. In the face of change, which we pretend to want, we are desperate for something safe, something we can depend on. It’s why Dick Clark is still given a microphone and a makeup mask so long as he has a pulse, and it’s why we hug and kiss and count down, because we can’t even fathom the alternative. Resolutions are a silly business, because nobody ever keeps or even remembers them. We make them because it’s tradition, and we fail to keep them because that’s tradition, too.
Our biggest tradition, though, is fragmentation of time. We must split everything up and color code it occasionally, in order to give ourselves the impression of having the upper hand in the War on the Future. But calendars and clocks destroy any fluidity that time may otherwise have. By chopping up time, laying it out on a grid and giving each individual piece a specific name and signification, we trick ourselves into thinking that some times inherently mean more than others. This fragmentation also leads us to believe that the proverbial slate can be wiped clean every New Years Eve. But it can’t be. We’re stuck with the past, whether we like it or not.
In that sense, today is nothing more, and nothing less, than today. Today has everything to do with 2007, just as it has everything to do with 1983 and 1541. Seriously. Please treat it as such. I promise that your new, abstract conception of time will pay off.
(Stepping down from soapbox.)