If one looks to framing events rather than the calendar, the decade that ends tomorrow began with 9/11 and concluded with the financial crisis. Not the best of times – probably competitive with the Seventies as the worst of times. I suppose we shouldn’t have expected much from an era defined by two zeros.
The last night of the old decade will be lit by a blue moon, a rare event for New Year’s Eve. I’m not much on signs and portents, even less on calendar-driven transitions – but I find the idea of the blue moon strangely soothing. It’s a saying, and a song. Now it will be the closing act of a hard 10 years.
It’s the future that matters: and the future is no respecter of calendars, but comes at us, ready or not, a moment at a time, impregnated with all the familiar troubles of the present and the past. Still, tomorrow remains a mystery. The future can become, in our minds, a kind of funhouse mirror reflection of the past, in which we look stronger and better.
So people make resolutions, imagining a toggle from fat to thin, drunk to dry, flabby to muscular. I could tell them the struggle for good character lasts a lifetime – but why be a stick in the mud? Besides, anything is possible, in the undiscovered future.
Americans love the future, and with good reason. We get bored easily. We’re the ADD nation. And we know that the one infallible prediction about the future is that it will surprise us. Tomorrow will look like yesterday, until it doesn’t. N. N. Taleb called this a black swan event, but I prefer to look to the night sky and call it a blue moon: something random and rare will happen in the next decade – maybe in the next week – to upset our plans, and shake us out of our complacency.
And we’ll be perversely happy, because we hate the daily drudge, and we love the new.