From 11:59:59, 31 December 2012 to 00:00:00 to 1 January 2013 is one second.
That one second represents an instance of both profound joy (finally, it’s over! resolved) and profound sadness (finally, it’s over…there’s nothing else left to be said, now is there). I don’t believe myself to be alone in wishing it over and yet wanting its ending to have meant something. In my post Edges Form Definitions, I said that “space without a border is infinite…the markers which form country borders, state lines, neighbourhood demarcations, and the corners of our streets – these tell us where we are (or are not).” The whole essay talks more about perception forming reality and, at first, seems unrelated to this topic, the shifting from one year to the next – but that dismissal would be surface, at best. Let me explain why.
The difference of a second is nothing in a lifetime. In the United States, what’s the average life expectancy? According to the CIA World Factbook, the 2011 estimates put it at 78.37 years – for mathematical ease (read: my laziness), let’s round down to 78 years and break that up into a few things:
Okay, now that was back-of-napkin math, but assuming that someone were alive for complete year + 24 hour periods, it is into the “millionth” bits of value: 78 seconds out of 2.46 billion seconds that you will have lived.
But remember, as we all know, “perception is a reality”, and most importantly, it can be managed. Our concern about the second that will move us from 2012 into 2013 is a valid one – that’s why we make resolutions, set goals, try to start the year “afresh”. We do so because we’re trying to manage the reality of our lives, to make sense of it, to give it meaning and to exert control.
So, let’s talk about ways to exert control. In this, I like to take my tips from people I know to be far smarter than I am. Ready?
“Familiarity breeds contempt” – Aesop
I don’t know about you, but by time December 15th rolls around, I’m already done with the current year. I’m in a rush to fall asleep before the ball drops and wake up in the new year where I’m able to have a whole new 365 (or 366!) days to mess it up, make more mistakes, learn new things, suspiciously forget certain moments, and get on with it.
It’s okay to want to close the door on things we’ve grown a little too familiar with, and I’m not just talking about the year itself. Been in a job that doesn’t suit and isn’t challenging? If you have it in you, either financially or emotionally, maybe it’s time for a change. Been taking the same, efficient route to work day-in / day-out? Maybe you get up a few minutes earlier to start taking the scenic route. Same restaurants? Same TV shows? Same, same, same? You know the answer. Get out of the rut.
“With Friends Like These Who Needs Enemies?” – Old English Proverb
I know how…negative that sounds to bring this up here, but I’ll submit this with two caveats: 1) Change “friends” to “relationships”, and 2) Truth hurts.
We’ve all been victim to it and we have all been a perpetrator. I know, I know, it’s hard to imagine that we’re not perfect, but we aren’t, and sometimes people that we trust can fail us and sometimes we can do the same. In that vein, is it time to maybe build new relationships and to let some go? Is it time to work on how we deal with one another? We want to be around people who bring out the best in us, they motivate us and support us. Likewise, we want to be the person who does that for others.
If that’s not the case, take this opportunity to do some hard thinking (pick up that mirror and consider your reflection), and perhaps there are some changes that can be made. Those changes will be worth it – I guarantee it.
“I don’t have time for strolls. I’m a serious person…I have no time for daydreaming.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
I say this in the nicest, most heartfelt way: daydream more. Play more. Dither about more. And, please work less.
For those who know me well that sounds a bit unlike me, but if there is one lesson that 2012 has taught me with a thoroughness akin to my 8th grade ex-military social sciences teacher, it is that work will always be there, waiting, and if you are somehow unable to do it someone else will find a way. Of course, there are times when one must put in the hours and burn the midnight oil; but that should be the exception to the rule. And, perhaps for some, there is a job only that person can do; most of us will never be in that position.
So, smell the roses. If there is snow falling where you live, step outside at two in the morning and enjoy the quiet that settles on the world, even if means that the next morning you’re moving a little slower. Pen a letter longhand or at least a postcard instead of dashing off an e-mail or a text. Play Scrabble and do a crossword with someone you care about.
Find time for that stroll in the park.
11:59:59 to 00:00:00 on 31 December 2012 is one second. Viewed in the light of the multitude of seconds you will have in this lifetime, mathematically, it’s effectively nothing.
But, in reality, it means a whole lot. So, let’s make this one a worthwhile one. I’m looking forward to making my 2013 much better than my 2012.
I hope you are too.