I'd like to wish you a happy New Year. but I'm not sure it's still appropriate.
Of course, the "happy" part is appropriate. It's always appropriate to wish happiness - except maybe depending on the words you use to express the sentiment and the context in which they are delivered. for instance, you might want to think twice about wishing happiness on anyone during a barroom brawl or any other situation in which you may be misconstrued as being insincere.
But I digress.
It's the newness of the year that puts me in a questioning mood on this drizzly, dismal (might we call it "drizmal"?) morning.
How long does the New Year stay new?
At what point does the New Year simply become just a new year.
Is there a pre-adult period? When does it reach middle age? And at precisely what point in our journey around the sun does the year officially grow old?
As leap days in leap years are always inserted relatively early in the journey, will this ordinary year grow old more quickly than last year, a leap year? Or do both leap and regular years grow old at the same rate, with every fourth year - like some of us - just getting older than others at the end?
Or do we measure the progression of age through each year the way that we do with people?
Do some years grow old before their time? Do some seem to retain their youth, regardless of the length of the journey?
Look around you, and you'll see people who personify the crux of this curiosity. I have a 98-year-old father (actually, closer to 98-and-a-half - and yes, it's worth counting) who is younger than most people I know who are half his age.
He has more trouble getting around than he used to.
And he doesn't hear - or see - as well as he did just few decades ago.
But people who meet him are almost always impressed more by his youth than they are by his age.
I've got to figure some years are like that. For instance, I felt that the past year was unusually old by the time it finally died and left us with its 2013 hatchling.
And I don't believe it had anything to do with that paltry extra day apportioned to the leap year - taking it slightly more than one quarter of one per cent past a normal year's life expectancy. That's like a Canadian living 80.9 years instead of the national average of 80.7 years (an extra 72 days - not even two and a half months).
Or it would be like someone in Swaziland living 39.7 years, instead of the average 39.6 (an extra 39 days).
Women have a four-and-a-half-year edge on us men here in Canada, with the average between the sexes giving us life expectancy about 20 per cent ahead of the world average (10th place overall).
Meanwhile life expectancy for men in Swaziland is actually a half-year longer than for women, averaging them into second-to-last place (Mozambique's outlook is even more dismal), and precisely 40 per cent below the world average.
Perhaps it is the realization of such differences between most of the world and those of us lucky enough to live in the airy heights of Global One Per Cent society that makes a year like the past one grow old so quickly.
Come to think of it, thoughts like these threaten to hasten the aging process for 2013, too. I've got to stopping thinking about it. or maybe. we should consider doing something about it.
@ Copyright 2013