the fiction of time and its passing

I don’t mean that the idea of a “day” is a fictional construct: the sun rises and the sun sets, and those two events help to define a specific period of time in which a person might be able to perform all manner of activities.

I mean that all the other periods of time that we know are actually more arbitrary than anything: we divide the idea of the “day” into ever finer divisions such as hours and minutes and seconds. And on the flip side, we count the “days” to make up months and years.

But counting the years, well, what the heck is that anyway? There are different calendars in use, and there have always been different calendars in use, and there are all these different people trying to “point” at a specific period of time to say, “This is Year One” or something like it. Two thousand years and sixteen or seventeen years and counting, but what was important about “Year Zero” and “Year One” anyway?

You get my drift.

Fireworks, wine, cheese, charcuterie, chocolate cake: these were the festivities from three days ago, as 2016 ticked down to the last leap second and then it was 2017. Oh, and also Notting Hill was showing on a cable channel, but my mom and my sister and I had had to ignore the tentative bumbling courtship in favor of some really rich people’s fabulous pyrotechnic displays.

It was back to work for everyone today, since 2 January had been declared a special holiday before the close of 2016, and now we’re all trying to remember that we now have to write 2017 instead of 2016.

What a terrible year 2016 was, personally, for me. I’m glad to see that particular arbitrarily-defined period of time go. I should say I’m not the only one, however — not if the list of deaths of important people is anything to go by. (Depressing link here.)

So now there’s a chance to make things right. To do things better. Maybe the idea of a New Year’s Resolution is a little too pat, a little hackneyed. But the idea of taking baby steps toward change — specifically positive change — that’s not trite at all. That’s actually an encouraging thing. A baby step forward is still a step forward.

The difficult thing is to avoid being self-destructive.

The difficult thing is to hold on to hope.

Things I want to do this year:

– Be a good friend
– Write a novel, maybe two if I’m really ambitious
– Save up for an overseas trip — I want to return to Singapore, or to Hong Kong
– Buy fountain pen ink that is neither blue nor black
– Eat properly
– Exercise?

Oh, and survive. That goes without saying.

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