There is no new year

Published December 28, 2019, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin




Fr. Rolando V. Dela Rosa, O.P.
Fr. Rolando V. Dela Rosa, O.P.

Three days more, and we welcome the New Year with revelry and exploding firecrackers. But if you come to think of it, there is actually NO new year. Seconds, hours, days, weeks, months, and years are just the mind’s way of measuring the passage of time. By doing this, we think we can control time.

This illusion of control makes us see the new year as a gift box filled with 365 days or 8,760 hours or 525,600 minutes available for our use. Truth is, such a box does not exist. Time is a succession of fleeting moments that passes, never to return. This is the paradoxical nature of time: each of us has enough time at our disposal (more than 31 million seconds a year), and yet we say: “I don’t have time.”

The only real time we have is the present moment, and it disappears so quickly that we hardly appreciate its newness. Time recedes to the past at a fixed rate of 60 seconds per minute. We cannot hoard or stockpile time like raw materials. Peter Drucker advised executives: “Time is our scarcest resource, and unless it is managed, nothing else can be managed.”

With due respect to Drucker, we cannot manage time. No matter how hard we try, we cannot alter the predetermined rate at which the minute hand of the clock moves. Time is beyond our control. What we can manage is how we use it.

Every day, all of us have the same amount of time at our disposal but we don’t know how to use it well. We waste each moment obsessing about the past or fretting about the future. We become like the author in the Old Testament who laments: “There is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). He thinks that despite the relentless passage of time, everything stays the same; change is an illusion, so he cries: “Everything is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 1:14).

Our Christian tradition has taught that we need not feel like victims of time. History is not a vicious cycle of disappointments and aborted changes. God gave us the ability to think and learn so we can shape history through human decisions.

The trouble is, we think that we can change history only when our decisions have an immediate and spectacular impact on our lives. We think that change must be preceded by a life-threatening crisis or a painful reversal of fortune. But history is often shaped not by such upheavals, but by small decisions precipitating events that exceed our expectations. Every decision, however small, creates ripples of change, forecloses possibilities that contradict it, and orients our actions towards a rigidly determined course and goal.

Heywood Broun once wrote: “The tragedy of life is not that a person goes to hell, but that he ALMOST entered heaven.” The word “almost” brings to mind those times we got so close to achieving something good, only to fail because of indecision. “Almost” implies lost chances due to our inability to use time well.

As we begin this year, let us ask God to give us a 20/20 vision so we can see that the thing we call NEW YEAR is just one way of counting moments.  It’s about time that we stopped counting. Let’s make every moment count.