Saturday, January 9, 2010

A New Year, A New Decade, A New Beginning

I kind of think it's funny that we as humans put such emphasis on the passage of a year, a decade, or even a millennium. Remember the panic that was Y2K? Hard to believe it was a decade ago. :-P I wonder what it is in our nature that makes us place such significance on the passing of one second in time. Because really, that's what it all comes down to - one second. (I suppose I could make the argument that it comes down to a femtosecond, but really.. who counts down in femtoseconds besides the occasional physicist?) When the clock strikes 00:00:00, you're a year older (in the case of your birthday), it's a new year (in the case of January 1), and everything is supposed to change. When the clock strikes 00:00:00 on your 18th birthday, you can all of a sudden buy cigarettes, vote, and join the military. One second stands in the way of whether or not you can legally order a drink at a bar. Yet I'm susceptible to the same labeling scheme as the rest of us. This year, one second meant making (and keeping) a New Year's resolution for me.

So what is it that keeps us coming back to the turning of a year? And what is it that makes us believe that the passing of a year is the best time to make new beginnings, new resolutions? What is to prevent us from making those resolutions at any time of the year? What is preventing us from deciding that, right at this moment is the best time to take charge of our lives and our destinies, rather than waiting for some perceived significant passing of one second?

I made a resolution this year for myself, despite that in past years I didn't even believe in them. Why the sudden change in heart? I realized that the reason why I didn't make them in the past is the same reason why I decided to make one this year. I've always wondered about the New Year's resolution phenomenon. I thought "why wait until now?" And then I realized that I was always waiting for some significant time to make a change in my life - until I reached a certain milestone in age, until work settled down and wasn't so hectic. Was it really all that different than making a resolution? Not really. Our lives are short. The average life span of an American woman is 79 years, which is 2,491,344,000 seconds. We spend 30% of our lives sleeping, leaving 1,743,940,800 seconds of our waking time. Approximately another 30% is spent at work. That leaves 1,220,758,560 seconds for me to do what I chose over my lifetime. Now, given my age, I have slightly over half of my life left. Divide my free seconds in half, and I'm left with 732,455,136 seconds.

Given the availability of seconds left in my lifetime, do I want to wait for some perceived significant time in my life (a promotion, a new pet, more time, etc) to decide that I want to make a change? No! So, I guess I really have made two resolutions for myself this year. The first is to finally make the changes in my life that will leave me healthier and 35 lbs lighter. The other is to not wait for some "significant point" in my life to decide I want to change something. Life is just too short to make excuses or "wait" to make changes.