People say to live in the moment. Don’t look ahead, don’t look behind, just live for now… because you never know when a sandwich truck is going to come out of nowhere and flatten you.
They don’t usually add that last part, but I think we all agree that’s their point. What’s the point of planning ahead if there’s no ahead to plan for? And what’s the point of looking behind if you can’t change anything about it? Furthermore, what’s the point of looking both behind and ahead in order to use your present to your greatest advantage? That’s just overachieving.
See, looking ahead is silly if you spend too much time at it. You can’t possibly predict every sandwich truck that comes around that corner. It’s better to leave things flexible so you can spend a few minutes dodging the sandwich trucks on your way to that important meeting you scheduled. If you had a strict morning lineup, you’d be dead by now.
The same works for the past. Looking behind is silly because if you spend too much time at it, you can’t see where you’re going and that sandwich truck takes you out anyway. You can’t change anything you’ve lived through, only your attitude about it.
Still, people try to schedule things, and people celebrate things that happened in the past. I don’t know why they do it, but it just happens.
Think about how silly it all is. Scheduling something is like trying to hit a target posted on a bullet train from another bullet train going the opposite direction… and you’re shooting a rubber band. The “moment” you’re aiming for is only there for, well, a moment, and the preparation required to make it all work is far too complicated and uncertain. It’s better just to be vague about when you’re going to do something, because chances are you won’t be ready for it when the time comes.
Looking behind is no different. Basically, anniversaries are celebrations of moments that passed when we were at the same point in the Earth’s orbit around the sun… which is pretty silly considering the sun is also orbiting the center of the Milky Way and the earth wasn’t really in the same place anyway. Supposedly, it’s a great achievement that we’ve survived until the same square on the calendar. It doesn’t make sense.
You know how mathematics defines a line segment as a succession of points directly between two other points? Points have no dimension, however– no depth, height, or length. The line gains length, but only because it has so many points stuck together. Time is exactly the same. All these dimensionless moments, smaller than the smallest fraction of a second, are stuck together into what we call minutes, hours, weeks, months, years, centuries. If you think about it, celebrating a birthday is like congratulating a line for sticking it out for the entire distance from one point to another. Yes, it’s an achievement, but it’s a pretty silly one.
So what does an anniversary mean? Congratulations, you survived an entire circle on a waterlogged rock hurtling through a vacuum as it spins around the sun. It sounds like a Survivor season. Survivor, Planet Earth. Seven billion people are stranded on a rock whirling around a giant ball of gas. Who will last? Fridays at 8/7c.
All that to say this: we’re here at this very moment to celebrate the negligible accomplishment of this blog having survived two such cycles of the Earth.
Happy birthday, blog! I’m so happy to have managed two years of this. It’s amazing what I’ve learned, and who I’ve learned it from– I love doing this. I hope I can continue for many more years, though I won’t think too much about it or I’ll degenerate into temporal existential depression again. Thank you all for reading, and I hope I’m not just providing welcome procrastination.
Have some cake.