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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Week of December 24, 2017

There are but days remaining in 2017. I’m not going to lie to you: it doesn’t sadden me one bit to see them go.
2017 started off with a bang, as my family and I had to ring in the new year with a five-night stay in the hospital with a medical issue that didn’t resolve until May. So it’s kind of nice to watch it end, anticipating a new beginning in 2018.

You’ve heard it before. There’s nothing new about a new year except one’s own perspective. That’s what the resolution business is all about. While home for the mad dash of Christmas, I couldn’t help reminiscing as I encountered all the things backseat in my day-to-day mind. Of course, a philosophical exercise ensued of contemplating how much of time is really an actual, measurable factor in all cosmology, like Einstein theorized, and how much of what the brain experiences as time is a social construct. This exercise was short lived because it caused indigestion.

But this brief hero journey yielded a small boon. Time does change things. The earth I walked on while back home and the one layered atop with specters as I reminisced were two different things. The people from the past we talked about, whether still on earth or no longer, when compared to us now, made it tough to realize that we all were the latter. Physics, while impossible to fully understand, made all of this a bit more understandable (and bearable). Why had the ground we walked changed? Easy—chemical reactions, both organic and inorganic, occur. And time, whatever it is, holds the state of the new expression on the other side of any one reaction, like an artist’s canvas. Likewise, even we, as we recalled the past, were remembering people who no longer exist. And I mean this in the most literal sense. You’ve heard how the body completely replaces itself in a matter of years. Every cell replaces itself so that you are a completely new person. Oh yeah, the boon: time, past and gone forever, can crop up in our minds (though absolutely and inevitably inaccurately) because our minds get re-created with our bodies. Yes. You are, if you’re not careful, forever stuck with your thinking patterns—or at least the general direction of their evolution.

Yep. This stuff is unsettling while eating a Christmas feast. But the nugget of wisdom in such an exercise is a good reminder. We have right now. Even though we think there’s nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1.9), time is always doing a new thing. Robert Burns soothed his upset belly with some spirits and a song we like to sing: “Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind? Should old acquaintance be forgot, and auld lang syne (days gone by)?” It’s a rhetorical question.

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