Friday, December 28, 2012

The Random New Year

Call me a stodge, but I won't stay up to see the new year turn to 2013.

Part of it is, quite frankly, that I just don't have the room to sacrifice the extra sleep. Lately I've been on a pretty hardcore program of exercise -- more on that in a future post, maybe in a few weeks -- and by about 9PM most nights, it's lights out for the soma, if not for the household. I should add that even in prior years, we didn't stay up because the loss of sleep wasn't worth the effort.

What effort, in fact? The cynic in me says: The effort of observing what amounts to the passage of an arbitrarily designated measurement of time; and the shallow entertainments that go with it. Is it worth missing sleep over? No, not really.

Let's face it: Had it been so designed, the "new year" could have started on March 31 at 2 PM, or on June 3 at 10 PM, or on September 16 at 5 AM. We could even change things now so it'd be that way. The New Year is a moveable feast; it's not tied to any event in the past (like Washington's birthday), and the designation of new days starting at midnight is itself an artificiality of our timekeeping system.

In the social world of the Bible, and in many cultures, the main observance of time isn't chronos, but kairos. That means not measurement, but opportunity. You do things when time gives you the chance to do them, not when the clock hits 12. (Imagine that -- turning into a pumpkin because you didn't get X done, rather than because you didn't get X done by Y time.) I think there's a certain wisdom in this method, as it seems so much of our modern stress has to do with those artificialities of measured time.

Of course, in many ways I'm given no choice but to live by the demands of chronos. The Christian Research Journal wouldn't be very happy if I observed a kairos rather than a chronos deadline. But I have found that I can live by kairos instead of chronos in many ways, and can say this much: It's less stress on the mind, body and spirit.

Observe the New Year chronos? No thanks. But we'll observe it by kairos in a way we often do -- with some light snacks, a relaxed evening, and lights out by 10PM at the latest.

See you next year.


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