2011. Perhaps you can remember when the thought of a brand new year — even the very numeral — was exciting. Somehow, it is harder to place the moment when the excitement of a new year turned to wariness and then to alarm and then to futile questions about the nature of time. Are we tunneling forward into the future, or is time blowing past us like a stiff breeze? Perhaps we simply carry time within us. To be conscious at all is to be conscious of time.
By now, of course, 2010 feels like a completely familiar, totally used-up year. But why does 2011 still sound like an annum out of science fiction? It’s not as though 2011 is a remoter outpost in the hinterland of the future than, say, 1971 was. Yet here we are in the second decade of the, living in the very future we tried to imagine when we were young so many years ago. Surely we must have colonies throughout the solar system by now. Surely hunger is no more, and peace is planet-wide.
The coming of the new year reminds us, again, that we live, as we always have, somewhere on a sliding scale between utopia and dystopia and that we continuously carry our burdens and opportunities with us. 2011 is merely a new entry in our ancient custom of chronological bookkeeping, an arbitrary starting point for our annual trip around the sun.
But it is also so much more. Who can live without fresh intentions, new purposes? Who does not welcome a chance to start over, if only on a new page of the calendar? Life goes on, but it goes on so much better with hope and renewal and recommitment.
Last night was a night for banishing regrets. Today is for wondering how to live without new ones, how to do right by ourselves and one another.