Sunday, December 31, 2017


A couple days ago a half dozen Chinese scholars and a couple of their children came to share a midday meal with us.  They had no transportation to our remote hillside home so I made five 40-minute trips to gather and later disburse them.  As we drove closer and closer to our home they came to realize the remoteness of our place and how it was "out in nature" [their words].  And it is in so many ways, "out in nature," even though we have made an artifical human footprint among the trees and wildlife.  They were thrilled, as were we, when nine deer chose to pass through the back yard as we were finishing the meal.

Today is defined as the last day of the year, defined by mankind, in a natural world which has no last  or first annual day.  Even our calendar is modern with respect to the life of the earth and solar system; we define this as a mere 2018 years since we started counting.  The structure of our calendar has made several changes in that time including a recent one just some two-hundred years ago.

Other cultures have different calendars.  The Chinese calendar is over 4000 years old, the Arabic and Hebrew calendars are lunar, based on the moon instead of the sun.  Regardless of the source of a calendar, it is mankind's way of quantifying and defining the cycles of nature.

That all feels logical to me, creating a tool to measure the movement of the sun, moon and stars, to record the changes of seasons.  What feels peculiar to me is the excessive celebrating the change of the calendar from one year to another.  We annually celebrate the birth of our bodies when we left our mothers' wombs; that occurred at a specific time and date and we're glad to be able to live through another summer and winter, so we celebrate.  But the first day of the year which was arbitrarily created by mankind, that it totally artificial.  We just love to find reasons to celebrate.  And we connect it to religion, hence the number 2018, and the seven days in a week.

As the story Christmas Carol by Dickens tells of the conversion of a Scrooge from hating Christmas to embracing Christmas, perhaps there should be a story about the conversion of a Denvy from seeing no value in the New Year's celebration to one who appreciates the festive mood at the end of the calendar.  Perhaps that story has never been written because there is no proper definable conversion.

I hope that your next cycle around the sun is peaceful, meaningful, enjoyable, profitable and reasonable, whenever that cycle may start or end.