Cold reality.

My hands are cold… my fingers are stiff. Early morning, and Sting and his lyrical insights, melodic, as deep as you want them to go, fill the crucial space between two ears. I am listening, because here is a man who has something important to say to me, about the year now past, about you and me, and how we’re glad to be alive and give thanks to happynewyear2021status.com whoever made it possible. The song is called “Brand New Day” and I hadn’t heard it since it first debuted, just in time for the new millennium.

I remember hearing this song in this very room, where I sat at this very desk in this very chair as I watched the clock move inexorably to the first midnight of the new century, the Y2K midnight that was supposed to bring cosmic computer chaos, so admonishing experts had told us. And so I, like so many others, worried myself into the new year, following the advent of midnight around the globe… only to discover that nothing happened anywhere… the biggest “same old, same old” ever. Yes, I was listening to this song that night. It couldn’t really be so many years ago, could it? Go now and find it in any search engine and listen carefully…

“There’s simply no immunity/There’s no guarantee.”

Old year past. I lived it. Which is to say I was alone, I was together, I made money. I squandered money. I lied. I deceived. I was cruel. I was affectionate. I made messes and ignored them. I cleaned up messes made by others who ignored them.

I cursed. I adored. I slept the sleep of the just. I just barely slept at all. I did random good deeds… I insulted those who meant me well. I hugged strangers… and ignored those nearest and dearest. I ate too much cake… and told others they shouldn’t eat cake at all, then ate theirs.

I knew the bite of the flesh… I abjured God… then went in panicked search of Him all over again. I was magnificent. I was squalid. I was the best of friends and the most unrelenting and tenacious of foes.

I demanded mercy and gave none. I wanted to make a difference and the difference I made was minuscule and negative. I ate without savor. I loved without passion and thought well of myself when there was not a single reason for so much conceit. I always took the easy way and had the temerity to tell others they must sacrifice when I would not. I took, always took, more than my share and bellowed that it was not more. I winked at injustice until I became an injustice.

I hated. I condemned. I demeaned. I disdained. I hurt whenever possible and denied whenever feasible. I exulted in the misfortunes of others and laid the burden of mine at the feet of God Almighty whose name in vane passed often through my lips.

I chose to misunderstand when understanding was facile… and blamed everyone but me on what was so readily apparent to others but willfully ignored by me. And yet I never lost the deep belief that I was a hero to others, a paragon to myself.

I was all this and more, I did all this and more in the tiniest morsel of time we call one year… as if it was something that could be neatly boxed and neatly understood. But even now this year, waning, its end in sight, abides… with possibilities still to come before it is played out, kaput, history we are glad to dispose of and forget, as if forgetting was even an option. It isn’t.

“Turn the clock all the way back.”

How many hours of that year, how many hours of your life have you now wasted wishing you could regain even a single moment of time, to live it, savor it, even the most commonplace of activities? It is natural to think so for our system is profoundly exasperating… you lived that moment. It is yours. You want it back. You must have it back. And so you expostulate against your fate, the inevitability that defines us. You must go forward, only forward, never back no matter how badly you want it. and you know how badly that is.

Right this minute, the sands of time are escaping through your open hands, hands you long to close and stop the inexorable… but you cannot close them. And so, you experience the pain of certain loss that defines each of us in a world that we live in, are destroying, but cannot stop and enjoy without anxiety.

Each word you now read here takes you into a future that challenges us, a future we must engage whether we want to or not. We stand alone before eternity… and it frightens us to our very core. That is why next year, the year after that. and all the next years to come you will fail to stand tall and courageous before the vast immensity we call The Future and why instead we will take what comfort we can from what our species is most expert at doing: dissipation, distraction, diversion, self destruction.

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