2016 is ending.
Celebrate the fact that you lived to see it.
2016 is ending.
Mourn the ones we lost along the way.
2016 is ending.
We’ve talked before about how the passage of time and the transition from one year to another are, in a very real sense, things that humans made up, but there’s always more to be said around here about narrative and myth and how the stories we tell ourselves make and shape us. We build and spell out what we desire to be in ideals and words and deeds and we carry our shifting constructions and foundational fictions in us, always, so that they may impact how we feel and how we think and what we do.
This 366 days as we humans in the west mark them mean nothing to the lifespan of the universe, to the turning of suns and black holes, to the diamond hearts of gas giants orbiting distant stars, to the weft and weave of geological and cosmological forces around us and in us. These days are how a portion of one species tries to grapple with the seeming inevitability of change and death. But so is literally everything we do.
2016 is not a real year, in any meaningful sense. It’s where we are from where we started counting from a few decent guesses, and if we wanted to take seriously the “reality” of that, then we’d have to be okay with the notions that Popes have the power to literally erase days from the record of time. We struggle with perceiving rates of change, and so we make up and define and refine time. And when it suits you—when you want to seem aloof, or above it, or disaffected, or too cool for the room—you remember that. You say things like “don’t blame a year for people dying,” or “why do you think the New Year is gonna suddenly make your problems disappear?”
But you know why. It’s a concentration of will, a focal point of belief and intention. It’s a cultural crux. It is a moment for all of us to stand together and reflect on what we want and what we need and what we will build and do, in the New Year. And more often than not, it works. At least for a little while. And that is very good, because yes, Time and Separation are illusions, but so is a desert mirage, and that can sure as hell kill you if you misunderstand what you’re perceiving.
So today let’s each of us use Time. Use distance. Use loss and pain. Use the memory and the impact of them to do what we can to make this communal hallucination of temporal transition resonate with a little more light and joy.
Give a stranger a kind word. Tell someone you love that you love them, even if you think it might be weird. If you go out tonight, resolve to be the easiest, kindest person your server has to deal with, all night, because they will have many more of the opposite. Do not drive while intoxicated.
2016 is ending. For many of us, it has already ended.
2016 is ending. This bounded moment, this name around a series of events, this collective noun for all the things that have harmed us.
2016 is ending. So remember that we don’t want to feel anymore as we so often felt this year. Death is still inevitable and change is our only constant, but we do not have to lose so much, all at once, nor allow our fear of difference to make us cold and hard and small.
On this final day of 2016, as the arc of our home star around the curve of our planet heralds the first moments of our next made up year, be kind. Be good. Help each other. Look out for each other. Strive to be a better person than you ever thought you could be.
It’s gonna be difficult and frustrating and maddening, but—if we stick together—joyous. Enthralling. Beautiful.
2016 is ending. But 2017 won’t be any better unless we do what we can to make it be.
And we can make it be.
Happy New Year.