If you’re a big metrics fan, you gotta love New Years. Given that I seem to be inherently skeptical about assigned dates for almost anything, the passage thing for me is not terribly important. I’ve always found the number one day of any year not so different from the day that precedes it, although a massive hangover can demand your attention. Our entry into the second millennium did get a lot of hype — one exception being that here in Los Angeles it was basically an embarrassing bust. The people at the house party that I attended celebrated by watching television. Not my fault, but really…
But for the numbers guys, well, things are different. It’s the time to decide the best, the most memorable, the most vexing, the most heroic, the most asinine, the most surprising, and so on. It is, in a word, a competitive approach, with an urgency to be uppermost. The ten best of everything, with a sole winner, and disappointment ascribed to the back nine.
Not that I mind, since I can live with a lot of good things without insisting that one item or another reign supreme. There were a bunch of good films in recent months — some of which fell (at some risk) outside of stated 2010 — and I couldn’t tell you which emerged at the top. To me, it hardly matters, though I have to admit that the lame duck rush of legislation at the end of the year had added importance in that it all came into place in two to three weeks and was recognized thusly.
Here and there, stuff happened. Here and there, nifty things happened. All of consequence, but none that qualified as a signature event. But all — and here’s the point — of value and significance. No winners, no losers. Life is a continuum; I’ve never believed that God/the Universe keeps times or real records. Doesn’t matter.
Relate it to your age. I’m sure I’ve already offered the great quote of pitching notable Satchel Paige, who observed, “If nobody actually told you how old you were, how old would you think you are?” You really can do what you want, hence this trendy business of “today’s 60 is the real 40.” So what do you like to admit to? What do you have to admit to, and to whom? What can you comfortably admit to yourself? When was the last time you heard anybody tell somebody else to act his age?
So whither New Years? Who decided to give it such weight? Does it all come down to organization? Can you actually wipe the slate clean and gain that fresh start? Interesting that forgiveness, either mortal or divine, does not accrue on a given day, week, month or year. It is, rather, immediate and complete. I’m in no way convinced that everything requires a start date, but you’ll see it happen in the first week of January at your local gym. Then, by the middle of March the rush of the guilty will have subsided and you’ll finally be able to get on your favorite machine.
The very name of the month derives from the ancient god Janus who has been characterized as being able to view both backwards and forwards simultaneously, which in my possibly cynical mind sounds seriously indecisive. Why, then, the cutoff? Why, arbitrarily, is there an absolute end, shut off the lights, and lock the door? And crazier still, why the insistence that we put a fresh piece of paper in the machine for a whole new story?
More to come on Friday (I will not get into the madness of fiscal years)…