What is it about years that end in the number nine? Why are they such a big deal? We get excited when the calendar clocks over to zero yet, realistically, it’s much ado about nothing. Whatever meaning we’ve assigned is absolutely arbitrary. The years we count are just a convenient construct and don’t actually measure anything in a significant or particularly relevant way. They’re not even globally consistent.
We assign meaningless meaning to a lot of numbers. It’s an interesting aspect of the species, our determination to find order in the face of random chaos.
Whatever the cause, however, the frenzy is here. I remember 1999 and the turn of the millennium. The excitement was off the charts, tempered by those who were utterly convinced it was the end of days and by those who were certain that Y2K was going to collapse the technological infrastructure.
As you’re no doubt aware, since you’re sitting here not dead via an apocalypse or the failure of technology, nothing terribly dire came to pass. The parties were good fun, though and everyone entered the aughts in a pretty decent mood, at least once the hangovers wore off.
The next nine were pretty mediocre, if memory serves. Nobody was really sure what the teens were going to be about. What was the theme going to be? As I sit here looking back, it seems to me that the teens were as teens are: complicated, moody, difficult, and hard to fathom while at the same time having moments of sweetness.
I have higher hopes for the twenties, and not just because I wouldn’t mind seeing more people wearing three-quarter length dresses with fringe, headbands, and opera gloves. I have high hopes because why not?
Personally, things are trucking along. I think I’m growing and evolving; I’m certainly in a different place than I was four years ago. My ability to accept the things I can’t change has expanded. This works out well since I’ve come to realize that my depression is of the chronic variety. One would think I’d have realized it after the first twenty years, but no. Overall, however, I think I’m moving in the right direction. This is a new feeling for me and it’s a nice change.
Socially, however, globally, things are terribly problematic. Which is a nice way of saying things are awful, a clusterfuck, a shitshow. I still have high hopes.
First, because if things go much further south, I won’t have the luxury of worrying about abstract concepts like “life satisfaction”. Survival will suddenly shoot up the ladder of things I have to pay attention to, a novelty for most of us who live in the developed world.
And that’s just economics and the environment. We won’t even get into the dire consequences foretold by the rise of extreme right-wing governments the world over. We’ve been here before; we know how this story ends. We’re awfully slow learners, really, when you think about it.
Second, because why not have high hopes? The worst that can happen is I’ll end up disappointed. I’ve been disappointed before. You get over it. Have high hopes and work on the things that are in your control to help contribute to the optimistic outcome you envisage.
What’s the alternative? Deciding we’re doomed and then doing your best to contribute to the slide? I try not to give up. Even when I give up, I like to think of myself as the kind of person who doesn’t give up.
My sense of purpose and perhaps unwarranted optimism ties in nicely with a year ending in nine. Perhaps that’s the appeal. New decades seem ripe for big goals even when they’re based on an arbitrary and abstract concept like years.
Fix the world or at least my portion of it.
That’s my game plan for the roaring twenties. That and perhaps some ostrich feathers.
What’s your plan for the next decade?