Happy New Year

The Editorial Board in Bangor Daily News:

Once again, just like clockwork, here comes New Year’s Day. Once again, in a wave sweeping across time zones, the world counts backward from 10. Revelry and other traditions have been pared back this year as the coronavirus pandemic drags into yet another new year. The uncertain — but hopefully better — future will be welcomed in with a mixture of hope and trepidation. It’s an odd holiday. Jan. 1 is no great landmark in the course of human events; it is the anniversary of no remarkable birth, death or battle. The cosmos is not arranged in any particularly auspicious way. It is a date pulled out of a hat, an utterly arbitrary starting line for an eternal, repetitive relay race. The innocent baby takes the baton, sprints out with promise and hope, inevitably to stagger home a shattered old man, beaten down by 365 days of calamity, cruelty and chaos, especially so this year. And another baby invariably waits its turn.

As a matter of history, humankind has always had a tough time with the new year. Oh, the ancient Chinese, Hindu and Mayan mathematicians, working back when math was fun and easy, had Earth’s trip around the sun down cold, figured out to the hundredth of a second. Then they would blow it by trying to schedule their version of the Rose Bowl on the anniversary of the creation of the universe — millennia before the invention of the three-day weekend, no less.

…Mark Twain, who said just about everything he said better than anyone else, put it this way: “Now is the accepted time to make your annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them. Yesterday, everybody smoked his last cigar, took his last drink and swore his last oath. Today, we are a pious and exemplary community. Thirty days from now, we shall have cast our reformation to the winds and go on cutting our ancient shortcomings shorter than ever.”

More here.