Happy New Year

Winter                                                               New (Seed Catalog) Moon

Years have come and gone, slipping off into the neurons, their impressions there more and less faint, our only confidence that other years, other days have happened.  We tend to peg our memories by the year Kennedy was shot, or when we landed on the moon, or when Nixon resigned.  The year the Twins won the World Series.  The year Sorsha brought in a woodchuck.  That honeymoon through Europe, following spring north.  The year mom died.

(time is cyclical)

What I mean to say here is that our lives, the years of lives, are re-experienced episodically and briefly.  They have to be.  What would it serve us if our memories were perfect records which required an equivalent amount of time to remember as they did to experience?

But this brings up then the fatal flaw of memory.  It’s not really a memory as in a mental snapshot of an event accurately recorded and recalled when needed. No, memories tend to cluster around emotions, emotions that highlight certain aspects of an event and downplay or suppress others.

What is memory for?  I mean from an evolutionary perspective.  It allows us to recall dangers.  Don’t walk in the bush at night because a predator might get you.  Opportunities. When the snows leave and the air warms, let’s head to that particular valley because the game is plentiful there and we can dig roots.  Others. That’s my mom and dad.  There’s my brother and sister.  Over on the other side of the fire is a person you want to stay away from.

Memories, interestingly, are always in the present, that’s the only time they can be experienced, so the past is only ever real in the present.  And it is present in shards of defective recollections.

Here’s something I’ve not been able to figure out.  Time, at least as we commonly use the term, seems to run in a linear fashion, time’s arrow some folks call it.  It moves, in this understanding, only forward.  Hence the new year and all its possibility and potential. Time has not been there yet, so it’s an open field of action.  We have not  yet committed any acts in 2014.

Yet.  The markers that we use for time, the day and the year in particular, are borne of cyclical time.  The day comes from a revolution of the earth, a repetitive motion that moves neither forward nor backwards.  The year marks a revolution of the earth’s around the sun.  The end of a year and the start of a new year finds us speeding back toward the spots we encountered last year, the Zodiac, for instance.

Yes, it’s true that these times are neither constant nor exactly repeated since the our solar system itself is dynamic and our planet wobbles, but this does not bother the essential point here, that we use for what we insist on calling linear time, cyclical measurements.

In other words it would make just as much sense to say, Happy New Year.  That is, yes, it’s a New Year and that’s the end of it.  The last trip is finished and the next one begun, but there’s no real reason to count them.  We’ve not gotten further along than we did last year, in fact, right now we’re back where we started.

This is just to say that 2014 and January 1st are conventions.  This may not be important at all, but I think the whole linear notion of time makes an afterlife seem significant when it’s not.  I think the whole linear notion of time forces us to imagine an arrow not only to time, but to history, and in so doing seek cause and effect where there is none.  I think the whole linear notion of time makes aging seem like an end when really it’s only part of an ongoing process.

So, what I’ll say is Happy New Year.  Again.

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