Yesterday's Light

Images in Space and Time

A Blank Slate

A Blank Slate (7600)

Another January 1st.  Another New Year.  Another “beginning”.

Except, of course, that it’s not.  Well, it does signal the start of another new calendar year.  That’s true enough.  We have another brand new batch of days, 365 of them, each ending in “2013”, which makes them a little different than the 365 days we just stumbled through, all of which ended in “2012”.

But today, I think, isn’t going to be too much different than yesterday.  Is it?  It’s still cold and snowy outside my window, the sun isn’t likely to break through the clouds and warm things up, and tomorrow – well tomorrow will be tomorrow regardless of the calendar year.  I don’t think today or tomorrow care very much what year gets attached to them.  That’s all kind of arbitrary anyway.

But people seem to like to think that it matters.  Which of course is OK.  If a million or so people want to stand out in the cold in Times Square and watch a ball filled with a zillion lights slide down a pole just before midnight, who am I to say that they’re being foolish?  If they want to think that the slate is somehow “clean” and the world is “new” just because the clock ticked past midnight on December 31st, so what?  And if millions of others want to make resolutions about what they’re going to do differently in the new year, then more power to them.

Heaven knows we could use a reason for a little optimism.  Even if it’s just another day disguised as a “New Year”.  If everybody bought in, maybe the guys in Washington could all start getting along and get something done.  Maybe the Arabs and Israelis would stop killing each other.  Maybe all the religions of the world would finally realize that they’re not all that different.  Maybe the NRA would stop telling me that I should have a large gun in my closet (or two or three or more).  Maybe, maybe, maybe…………

Yes, a blank slate would be good.  It would be nice to begin again.  Happy New Year.


8 Responses to “A Blank Slate”

  1. Cedric Canard

    Like you Paul, I don’t really get the significance of such arbitrary dates but I do get why people like to attach meaning to them. In a way I wish I did too but I prefer to celebrate the more random, unexpected events in life though even then I tend to do it in a rather understated fashion. Which explains my being labelled as a boring old fart by some people.

    I wish you and your family a happy year ahead as well. All the best.

    • Paul Maxim

      If you’re a “boring old fart”, Cedric, I must be something even less interesting. I’m the guy standing off to the side, the perpetual observer.

      And like you, it’s the “randomness” of life that sparks my curiosity and attention. The instant someone decides that some event deserves everlasting recognition by being declared a “holiday” on the calendar is the instant (for me) that that event becomes something to ignore. Like New Year’s Day. Or Valentine’s Day. Or Halloween.

      Maybe we should put all the holidays into a hat and pull them out randomly. If it’s July 15th and we think we need a “holiday”, we’ll pull one that hasn’t been used yet out of the hat. If it says “Christmas”, then we’ll have Christmas in July. And it won’t last for 2 months (like it does now). It’ll just be for a few days.

      Makes sense to me………..

  2. Markus Spring

    A Happy New Year to you, Paul! Rest assured you’re not alone with your wish for a blank slate – as well as in your knowledge that it doesn’t happen. To put it in Janis Joplin’s words: “Tomorrow never happens! It’s just the same f*****g day.” Having just watched the new year’s speach of my beloved Bavarian premier, I have nothing to add…

    But that millions of years old rock slate of yours, that works very well for me.

    • Paul Maxim

      Yes, it’d be sort of like getting an unexpected “do-over” moment. One of those points in time when you get a second chance to get something “right”. Unfortunately, we don’t get too many of those. Not even when we hit the “New Year”. The sun comes up and goes down, just like it did on December 31st. The idiots are still idiots. Real change is very, very hard.

      I know what you mean, but I doubt that this particular hunk of Navajo sandstone is millions of years old. To Mother Nature, sandstone is like modelling clay – stuff that is easily molded by water, ice, and wind. Still, it’s old. And it never ceases to fascinate me. Even if I could walk these canyons for a hundred years or so, it would still all be different.

  3. Earl

    Paul, You know, if we were going to celebrate I’m thinking mid-night on December 21st would have been a good date and time to mark the world not ending! After that the beginning of a new year is a piece of cake. 😉

    I like the photo!

    • Paul Maxim

      Thanks, Earl. With respect to December 21st, I read a comment recently that said that maybe that wasn’t the right date, that maybe it’s a later date because the Mayans didn’t have “leap years” factored in. I’m certainly no calendar expert, but I’d hate to have to go through all that nonsense again (although it does qualify as comic relief for the strange behavior of our congress).

      But I do agree with you – December 21st could have been made an “instant holiday”, a one-time-only holiday that would never occur again. You celebrate once and you’re done. It can never become stale.


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