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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

In Between Days: Thoughts turning with the calendar


Back in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII proclaimed a new calendar that corrected a flaw in the Julian method of date-keeping that previously held sway. The older misaccounting of years caused a lag that resulted in the loss of a day almost every century. The Gregorian made solar amends by dropping leap days for centuries not divisible by 400 (for example, in 2000 there was an extra day, but in 2100 there won't be).

Adding to the bitterness of the corrective pill to be swallowed, Gregory struck the dates Oct. 5 through 14 of 1582 from the historical record. Many contemporary folks felt cheated of 10 days of their lives, and balked at the idea. It took the stubborn Brits, along with their colonies, until 1752 to fall into step with the rest of Europe. The Russians required a revolution before joining in the fun in 1918.

I've always been fascinated by the history of the Western reckoning of time; trying to synch our increasingly irregular quotidian cycles to the natural rhythms of the world and universe. We often fool ourselves that we're masters of temporal passages. We sprinkle our leap years with extra days to compensate for imprecise measure of the sun's annual sojourn. We push clock hands forward and back pretending to control the sun's rise and fall.

There are times when skipping ahead into the future might seem a blessing. In the midst of difficult seas, we all want to fast forward to a smoother patch of water. It's usually those in between days that offer us the best opportunity for growth, however, and the hardships of the journey enable us to savor the safe harbor of a destination reached.

In many ways we reside in an in between time now; a threshold moment where technological advances are making possible great social shifts. We stand paused in the doorway between two worlds afraid to step into the seeming darkness that lies ahead. There's a great temptation to turn and go back, but that door is closed and locked behind us. We can best light our way forward with a creative vision fueled by hope rather than fear, using the torch of our imaginations to discern the new possibilities.

The Mayans had their own calendar, and it tracked our world's turning until December 21, 2012. On that date, which they defined as 13.0.0.0.0, we're supposed to enter a new world age. There's some debate about the exact significance of this end date (see The How and Why of the Mayan End Date in 2012 A.D.), but I choose to look at the prophesied rebirth as more metaphorical than physical. Dramatic changes are in store for human kind. Whether the transformation proves positive or negative will depend on our choices in these in between days.

In Between Days
by The Cure

Yesterday I got so old
I felt like I could die
Yesterday I got so old
It made me want to cry

Go on, go on, just walk away
Go on, go on, your choice is made
Go on, go on, and disappear
Go on, go on, away from here

And I know I was wrong
When I said it was true
That it couldn't be me and be her
In between without you, without you

Yesterday I got so scared
I shivered like a child
Yesterday away from you
It froze me deep inside

Come back, come back, don't walk away
Come back, come back, come back today
Come back, come back, why can't you see?
Come back, come back, come back to me

And I know I was wrong
When I said it was true
That it couldn't be me and be her
In between without you, without you ...
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