The turn of the decade hadn’t registered at all until someone’s holiday card wished me a happy new one. I’m afraid my first thought was: oh, no! Not another decade! Isn’t chalking off another year enough? Then I stepped outside to go for a walk in the first sunlight I’d seen for days, and pleasure in the moment took over.
As I walked I reflected a bit perfunctorily on the past ten years and all the changes and upheavals in the world and in my own life–which I will not enumerate. Then I found myself pondering time itself: round time, as in the earth’s journey around the sun and the phases of the moon, and linear time which defines various beginnings and keeps relentlessly advancing into some elusive future and/or catastrophic end. Then there is ritual or religious time, which is some combination of both: liturgical calendars based on the sun and moon (round) that celebrate events that are considered unique and historical (linear). There is also what I call organic time: birth, growth, aging, death–of plants, animals, and ourselves. However cyclical organic time may be in our gardens, when it comes to our own lives, we also see it as linear. There’s a beginning, a middle, and an end–ours.
In this season that is about to culminate in a global celebration that ushers in the secular new year of linear time, we’ve celebrated all the other kinds of time, too, round, religious, and organic. We are the calendar makers and the myth makers; I suspect there is some connection between those two things. Both may be based on keen observation, but both are also human constructs, our way of making sense of mystery. 2010 is a new year and a new decade only because most of us agree that it is–or have agreed to agree, whatever other calendars, religious, cultural or personal, we might also keep.
So what time is it, anyway? What time do you want it to be? We like to put adjectives before the word time and we also like to add an “s” to the word, which makes it clear that time is various. Good times, bad times, tough times, hard times, happy times, past times, end times. Memory and prophecy, the lines we cast into the past and future, are human constructs, too. What stories do we want to tell ourselves about time, what has happened and what is to come? And by the way: what time is it now?