The New Year
"Time" is a man-made construct. As far back as the Neolithic period apparently, our ancestors were looking at the moon and devising 'calendars' to mark the phases of the periods they were living through. Sometimes I like to imagine what it would be like if they (and later, the Gregorians) hadn't bothered: No seconds or minutes or hours or days or weeks or months or years. No regular markers for our physical passage through life. Christmas, Valentines, Easter, Summer, Halloween, Birthdays... there would be nothing but the constant passing of time. It would be like floating in space - chaotically unstructured, discombobulating. Every life would be in a permanent state of existential crisis. Why bother with anything, when there is nothing to aim for, no hills to climb or corners to turn.
A 'New' Year is crucial to this construct. (I know, I know, many of us spend the first day of it nursing hangovers and staring gloomily at the mounting pile of pine needles under the Christmas tree without being able to summon the wherewithal to put the kettle on, let alone anticipate the mountain of months ahead of us). But AFTER that - when January is in mid-flow - a wonderful feeling can kick i... hat uplifting sense of being presented with A(nother) Clean Sheet. The year stretches ahead, as inviting as a fall of fresh snow. Life, more than at any other time, feels full of possibilities. The scent of change is in the air. The resolutions haven't (yet) been broken. Plans are (yet) to be made. Hope springs eternally. As it did the year before, and the one before that.
Which is why, though we live in a digital age and I do lots of digital thing... r... igitally, I still have a diary. Two, in fact. One on my desk and one by my mainline phone downstairs. They are the old-fashioned kind of diaries, big, with ribbons to mark the day and two pages for each week. The diaries reinforce for me all the things I love about this time of year. The thickness of their pages, the whiteness of the pape... ust like that fresh fall of snow. Finger-scrolling across a screen does not begin to offer the same pleasure, the same sense of hope. And writing new engagements and commitments onto those pristine pages still feels special too; the effort to be neat is still in place - the pencil is sharp, the words level and evenly spaced.
It all goes to pot of course. The plans, the neat writing, the hopes. Like life, it will all get jumbled and mangled; crossed out and re-written. Tea-spills and muddy cat-paws. The pages will take their usual bashing, as do we all.
But not yet. Not while the year is still new.