Year is a unit of time, one of many, ranging from epoch and millennium, through the year, season, the month and day, through the hour to second, millisecond and nanosecond.
A “unit” measures something. The Meter measures length, the Kilogram measures weight, the degree Celsius measures temperature and so on. These are basic notions which we sense, comprehend and to some extent “manage” to serve our needs and accomplish our ends. We are aware of these matters for we sense them with our faculties. But such is not the case with Time. Yet we know that it is about us, for tempus regis vitae, time regulates life. Indeed, when Virgil wrote the line he could have been guided by feeling hapless vis-a-vis omnipotent Time.
Hard as we try we cannot understand Time. But we measure it – somehow we do that – but still we do not know what it is. We know that it takes time to make things. It takes some nine months to make a baby and some 20 years for a baby to reach maturity ... After having spent considerable time pondering time I have come to realize the immensity of my ignorance about it.
We try to seize time and store it. We invented History in which to store time and cameras to capture instances we do not want “lost in time”. We even imagine “Time Machines” in a futile effort to defeat time, to “escape” the stranglehold of time, if you will. All to not avail. And we have crystal balls to help us fly ahead of Time.
We manage much of our world, be it for better or worse. But Time subjugates us, constrains our will and limits our dreaming. We have neither shelter nor escape from Time. Contrary to the adage “killing time”, we cannot do that, it is beyond us to eliminate or produce Time – the most we can do is to manage our compliance with it. And we can steal time and we do. Our “tools”, be they a humble gardeners hoe, or a mighty microchip-making robot, and even the invention of human slavery, in the final analysis, all are sort of burglary tools made to help us “steal Time”.
The “Rocket”, Stevenson’s locomotive, not unlike Santa Clause sleigh, came loaded with goodies for us. The tracks the Rocket ran cut down the need to steal time. Horses, oxen and plenty of humans got relief, and more of it kept and keeps on coming.
I wonder if Stevenson ever realized what he was achieving, but what matters is that he did it. He also “did” Aby Lincoln, for without Stevenson, Lincoln would not have happened. Just like Stevenson would not have happened if Dante Aligheri had not pondered the magnificence of an Italian sunset, while loafing on that hillside, the spectacle sending him to undermine the Dark Ages, thereby preparing the ground for Stevenson and Rocket-the-locomotive to happen.
Without the Dantes and the Stevensons of our world, overt slavery would have likely remained endemic on Earth. Such people are rare but not as rare at it appears to be. There are more Dantes and Stevensons born to us, the human race, only for many of them to be suppressed by the “establishment du jour”, their brains mutilated, their capacity to imagine nipped in the bud.
Year-change is the season for “resolutions”. A myriad of them are made, many of them to never even germinate. The more of them that come to fruition, the better we all are. It is also a time to express optimism and to wish for the better. And when nothing seems to work, we must persevere, for breaking down the will of the populace to seek change is the forte of the guardians of the Status Quo, of that which collapses if exposed to the public eye, like non UV-resistant plastic bags exposed to sunlight.
But let’s be pragmatic but also dream.
l look at the ending year as does everybody else. Most of us feel that we deserved more than we got and so perhaps it should be, for malcontent drives civilization. Some of us seek comfort in that the vanishing year was no worse than it has been and this is not a strange sentiment either. But whatever our feeling for the old, we must not let it weigh us down on our trip to the future. Let ‘s reshape our disappointments into expectations and support them with a determination to do better in the coming year. Let us look higher than what we need to, let’s free our imaginations to fly like a rocket or roll like the Rocket – we may not land at the peak, but will likely get further and higher than would if we were not chasing a dream.
I will close by repeating mundane advice I have given in the past to the Islands Trust, the incurable optimist I am:
Do not do things you would have to hide from us – Do things that you can brag about.
I will now wish you the coming year to fulfil your dream.