Well, I thought I was going to get out of writing this blog post, but here it is, 12:31 AM MST on 12/21/12, and all is quiet on the Southwestern front. The power’s still on, the dogs are zonked out and give no indication (as animals sometimes do) of impending natural disaster, and all signs point to general failure to apocalypse once again.
Which surprises absolutely no one with two functioning synapses to rub together.
But the amount of bandwidth given to doomsday prophecy and mockery thereof in news outlets and Facebook is considerable indeed, and I must insist on my share of the latter. There are many reasons why none of these prophecies are credible, but the most basic one, and one I never hear people talking about, is the fundamental fact that all time measurement by humans is completely arbitrary. Certainly, it is based on observable phenomenon, like the phases of the moon, and solar circumnavigation, and day and night. The units of measurement themselves are not completely divorced from any kind of concrete reality.
However, while the Earth turns on its axis day and night, traveling its orbit and experiencing the seasons, it actually has no idea what today is. There are at least 46 calendars in use on the planet today, more if you consider that every business can operate on a fiscal calendar of its choosing, and there are plenty that have been used over the years but are now obsolete. And if there are 46 different calendars, then the day we here in the West label as December 21st, 2012, is 46 other things elsewhere. While it’s a reasonably safe bet that most of those calendars give some nodding acknowledgement to the winter solstice (which in the southern half of the planet is the summer solstice), the fact of the matter is, while it’s year 2012 for those of us using the Gregorian calendar, for Hebrews it’s 5772, and on the Korean calendar it’s 4345, and if we were still using the Julian calendar, it’d only be December 8th; that is to say, all that nifty, vaguely palindromic symmetry of 12/21/12 that lends itself to doomsday prophecies doesn’t really exist; all the starting points of these calendars are arbitrary, and therefore while all dates pertaining to them are handily marked and sequenced, they’re imaginary; the universe does not keep time like that. We find it useful, but measured time doesn’t exist in any real sense. All we have is now, and it’s only in memory and imagination that the past and future exist–all abstraction, at best.
Then again, I suppose the people who are inclined to believe the end of the world is nigh are not really up for a discussion of the basis of timekeeping, or logic, for that matter. I keep forgetting that.
In a philosophical sense, though, every day is the end of the world for someone, by chance or by choice. Some people here today will not live to see tomorrow. Some people’s lives will be irrevocably changed by an event they have no idea is coming, ending the world as they knew it. Some people will change their own lives, realizing that a new choice can be made with every new day, or even with every new breath, and they bid their old world goodbye with great joy and some trepidation. Every day can be judgment day, and we can evaluate what we need to cultivate and what we need to kill to move forward in this endless life-death-life cycle that is the rhythm and music of the spheres.
In any case, I am thrilled to have arrived at Solstice, and I am comforted that the days will grow longer again. And that I get to open my Christmas presents. And it would’ve been a damned shame to die before all of this year’s peanut butter balls were eaten.
I wish you all a very merry Christmas, a beautiful Solstice, and the happiest of other holidays that you may be celebrating.