I was reading today that a group of guys around the globe are trying to decide whether to keep the “leap second” or get rid of it. The leap second is similar to the leap year, and apparently every few years the “timekeepers” have been sticking in an extra second in order to keep all of our electronic devices in sync with Old Sol. It makes sense, I guess. Modern measurements of time are atomic in nature and very precise, but they aren’t strictly based on the Earth’s rotational cycle, so over time, the two diverge. But since some vital equipment and processes rely on coordination and split-second timing, this is how they ensure that everything works and the sun doesn’t rise at high noon someday.
That reminded me of something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. That is, how for centuries humans have created systems to measure time, many of which just don’t jive with nature or our natural rhythms. Every year I go through a post-New Year’s funk, and every year I have to remind myself that, despite what the calendar says, January 1st is not the beginning of the year. It really isn’t the time for fresh starts and new beginnings. It’s the dead of winter, for goodness sake! And winter is a period when things in the natural world are dormant, underground, hibernating, storing up, and waiting for spring, which is the time for new beginnings.
But it’s hard not to get seduced by all the New Year’s hype about resolutions, clean slates and new leaves. We start expecting things to be different – and usually better – than they were on December 31st. We also put a lot of pressure on ourselves to act and feel differently than we did just a few weeks ago. It’s particularly deceiving living here in beautiful Austin, Texas, where today the sun is shining and it’s 70 degrees outside. It’s tempting to think that winter is over and it’s time for the wildflowers to start blooming and for all of us to feel renewed. But it isn’t, they aren’t and we might not. So the message to myself is simply, Be patient. Spring will come. Really. Although depending on what the timekeepers decide, it may take an extra second to arrive!
DISCLAIMER & A REQUEST: The above is from my perspective living in the northern hemisphere. I’d be interested to hear what people in the southern hemisphere – where it is currently the middle of summer – think about this. So if you know anyone in Australia, South America, South Africa, forward this to them and ask them to comment!
AND. . . For more on the subject of time, please read my short story, The Land That Forgot Time.