Across the Great Divide

The time has come to clean house. For those so inclined every new year is a time to start fresh. And even though I am not so inclined, I can hardly ignore the end of a century and, what’s more, a millennium.

I would like to weigh in with those who are waiting for next year to celebrate–to be absolutely pure and scientific about it. If I did, I could postpone cleaning out the cobwebs for another year. After all, logic calls for a year zero, the first year of the first thousand. The months and years can be calculated on a rational basis using the moon and the stars; but for the centuries and millennia, hemmed in by zeros and nines, we have only ourselves to blame. These are arbitrary divisions based on our mutual agreement to use tens for our numbering system.

However, it hasn’t turned out so bad. The century mark comes only once in anyone’s lifetime. What if we had chosen four for our numbering system? We would face a new century every forty year, two per lifetime. One seems enough; two seems excessive.

But a millennium! Everyone waits for that digit to change, rolling, with its three zeros, into the future. Not again for a thousand years! Even I am caught up in the current excitement and flurry in spite of myself. So much for science.

It’s a time to sort through the past and clear room for the future. I have spent a little time the last few weeks examining my worldly goods to see what should go and what should stay to see the next century. I last did a good job of this ten years ago. The, October 17, 1989, 5:04 p.m., to be precis, the forces of nature dumped all my possessions on the floor in less than a minute. I was forced into taking stock whether I wanted to or not. Now, I do it again on my on terms and perhaps a little more gently. A decade from now, maybe I’ll do it again. These “tens” are really not bad at all.

But ridding myself of physical baggage is only a small part of the battle. It is time to take stock of my mental luggage as well. What, from the past, must I take with me to make sense of the future? What must I dump? Open any newspaper or magazine to be dazzled by the changes that have occurred in the past month or year, not to mention decade or century. These changes open new territory as clearly as Marco Polo, Lewis and Clark, or John Glenn once did. What will I need to go there? What shall I leave behind? Can I travel farther if I travel light?

The future is thrilling and scary. I am sure I will bring to it things I don’t need and leave behind things that I do. Come to think of it, I’m glad next year is the true millennial mark. I am sure I will need that long. But even then my house may never be clean.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.