The Great Wall of December

As far as the universe goes, tomorrow will be no different from today.  Simply another spin on the axis, another tour around the sun.  No man-made constructs like  dates and calendars to mark the passing.  Tomorrow’s sunrise will come whether we mark it or not.  But mark it we will, with genial irresponsibility and artificial significance attached to a time that will occur some 40 times today.  New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are all about human perception, a way for us to make sense of the inevitable march of time.

My perception of it has always been one of a rapidly approaching wall.  Things seem to have a sense of accumulation towards the end of the year.  The holidays stack closer together, collected memories of the past year are gathered and shared, lists are constructed to bring twelve months worth of miscellanea together as the year draws to a close.  Winter makes the days shorter, the weather makes us huddle together, and the overall sense is of things rushing to a close.

So maybe that’s why we invest New Year’s with a sense of looking forward, with resolutions for the coming year. With something as simple as a clock striking midnight, an entire year that existed mere moments ago is gone and the slate is blank.  Nowhere else in our lives are past and future so clearly defined.  No wonder there’s always hope and resolution and promises of gym memberships and diets.

So to hell with the cold scientific reality of what’s happening tonight.  Never mind that we’re simply passengers on a vessel of physics and geometry that will spin and orbit on no matter how we measure it.  Tonight, for a brief moment, we are all time travelers, embarking on a journey from one year to the next.  Hang on and enjoy the ride.


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