This is supposed to be my year. All of December I’ve been thinking about how I’m going to hit the ground running in 2013, how I’m going to finally accomplish all the things I want to do. I’m going to make videos regularly, actually write things for Technophilia in advance and I’m going to do more of the sorts of things I need to if I want a long-term career in journalism.
In 2013 I will finally become the person I want to be.
Bullshit. I drove home from Michigan on Saturday, slept the better part of Sunday and today, one week into my resolutions, I’m freaking out. I have a nasty cold that made it impossible to write Monday Tuesday and most of Thursday, meaning most the things I want to accomplish this week aren’t even started. I spent most of yesterday feeling just tired enough to not write, and now I’ve got a giftbasket full of deadlines that are starting to go bad.
We do this to ourselves every year: pretend that an arbitrary point in the calendar means something, that switching from one year to another is more meaningful than switching from one day to another, from one hour to another or from one second to the next. It’s not, but we’re humans and humans will assign meaning to anything.
Look at the Mayan calendar. Here we have a system for measuring time used by a civilization that disappeared long ago, and enough people interpreted the transition from one era to another as meaning the end of the world that there was panic. Actual Mayan descendants didn’t care in the slightest, because they actually understood the calendar, but that didn’t matter: all across Europe people we’re freaking out about earth ending, because humans assign enough value to time to believe that the end of a man-made calendar can influence reality itself.
The truth is that time is a construct we created to give the world meaning, to track things that otherwise just happen. Days are pretty consistent but years are so bothersome for us to measure that we’ve devised a complex system of leap days, leap years and even the occasionally leap second just to keep everything in balance. It’s a different time for me right now than it is for James, because we’ve set a number of imaginary lines that determine what time it is where. Time varies depending on space.
There are no time zones in China – it’s the same time in Beijing as it is in Tibet. The Chinese citizens I’ve talked to about this think it’s a great idea, but almost all of them lived on the east coast and probably never had to deal with getting up at 3 every morning because that’s when it’s light outside. Reality doesn’t care what time we say it is, just like reality doesn’t care what year it now is.
So when I tell myself I’m going to do something in 2013, I’m fooling myself on some level. I’m pretending that an arbitrary point in a man-made system can somehow shape my destiny, can somehow make me more likely to do the things I already know I need to do.
Will it? Probably not. But I’ve got to try something, right?