“The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field … teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom”~ King David of Israel & Moses the Hebrew Activist (Psalm 103:15, Psalm 90:12)
Just over two decades ago, the enlightened world worried about the approach of the millennial year amid fears that computer systems that were beginning to wield a vital role in society would malfunction. At the same time, the ultra-religious world worried about an apocalypse of universal proportions that would mark the end of life as we know it. Twenty-two years later, the cycle of life goes on as the earth makes another human-referenced revolution around its star.
What exactly is a year? As the chants of “Happy New Year” blissfully zoomed through the amorphous connection of elections called the internet, I saw a couple of tweets decrying an acclaimed “obsession” with January the First, and pointing to similar dates in other cultures around the world. Some other tweets asserted a preference for birthdays as New Year markers. Later, I would speak with an uncle, who, sitting in his office, argued that January the First should be a working day for people to “set the stage for the new year”, while a public holiday is designated on the next day.
Whatever your views are, it’s a new year! At least, majority of the earth’s human inhabitants believe it is, and this is one area where a fight for “inclusion” or “diversity” is unlikely to upset the status quo. It is true that human calendars were arbitrarily drawn, but what alternatives would anyone prefer? If people chose to use disparate days to mark new years, how would human activity be synchronised? How would we agree on how much time has elapsed between two events? At a universal scale, the planets, their moons, and other natural satellites continue their revolutions around billions of stars; while within the earth, the water, carbon, nitrogen, and other natural cycles continue in blissful oblivion to the existence of humans, though we try hard to upset their balance. Whereas from a purist scientific perspective, it can be argued that we are insignificant to the universe, the Christian in me would see humans as the “anchor tenant”, the centrepiece, of the universe. However, regardless of your belief, we surely need time markers to make sense of our time on earth.
A friend from my undergraduate days died on 31 December 2021, just like Betty White, the famed 99-year-old actress, whose 100th birthday had already been planned for 17 January 2022. This photogenic guy, dying so young, at literally the outskirts of the new year, reminded me of the ephemeralness of life and the need to live it well. Even if you live to be as old as Betty White, your entire lifetime would be so minuscule compared to the length of human civilisation and existence of the universe. Maybe, a suitable comparison would be to look at how seemingly large the earth is, and comparing it to the sun and the entire expanding universe.
Life is so short, so let’s try to make as many days as possible count. Amidst the vagaries of the next eleven calendar months, we would encounter certain moments that would define our year. In fairness, control of many of those moments would be beyond us, but it is the ability to make the most of those moments that would define our 2022. If like one of my colleagues, you are entering the new year already burnt out, please find an appropriate way to hit the reset button because 365 days is a long time for long suffering.
May the new year work in our favour. Happy New Year!
Image Credit: Pixabay/ASTemplates