The Mayan calendar began a new epoch without incident. Some people are now trying to figure out how to reset their credit cards after maxing them out because the world was going to end. They would have bought my oceanfront property in Nebraska sight unseen had I been devious, er, foresiteful enough to advertise it. You can’t believe everything you read on the Internet.
While the Lunar New Year won’t occur until February 10th, the Julian calendar year 2013 A.D. began a few days ago. We have transitioned from the holiday season. I’ve disconnected the outdoor Christmas lights and taken the ornaments and garland off the tree; the tree gets put away tomorrow. Christmas decorations are finding their way back to boxes and storage bins. It’s beginning to look a lot like an ordinary time of the year.
We have not had any fresh snow in several days and have had some days near freezing. Our snow has a grayish patina of dust and sand, and nearly all the cars are the same drab gray color from road salt. There are some bursts of color. Some people wash their cars almost daily, and the two-tone winter beaters, rust and some other color, are commonplace. There are several pairs of cardinals riding out the winter, their colors muted by their winter plumage with an occasional blue jay making a noisy appearance. Discarded Christmas trees are showing up curbside throughout the neighborhood.
This week’s forecast heralds above average temperatures and a chance of rain. After next weekend, the temperature begins a slide to a few sub-zero evenings and below average days. It all averages out in the end, assuming the forecasts are correct. We are about four weeks from Groundhog’s Day, which is the halfway point of winter in the Northern Hemisphere. Spring is coming. Hope springs eternal.
People have tried to foretell the future accurately for centuries. The Oracle at Delphi, seers, soothsayers, magicians, wizards, Nostradamus, mathematicians, meteorologists, bookies, pollsters: all have had varying degrees of prognostication success. Here are a few predictions I recall reading though the years:
- The Vikings this year would have a 5 – 11 season and Adrian Peterson would have an off year recovering from ACL surgery.
- The Twins would finish in third place and have a winning season.
- The period after 1973 was to usher in a new ice age with rampant global cooling.
- Romney would be elected by a three-percentage point margin according to polls in August.
- We would be a paperless society in the 1990’s
- The United States would be using the metric system exclusively by 1976.
- A manned mission to Mars would occur by 1999.
- Jesse Ventura had no chance being elected governor of Minnesota.
- The world’s population in 2010 would exceed 11 billion people.
- “Dow Jones 30,000”.
It is not for wont of trying that these predictions were wrong. In ancient times, tea leaves, animal entrails, or natural signs would provide guidance. In modern times, we perform exhaustive analysis on empirical data. Sometimes a crucial piece of data is missing or goes unnoticed. Sometimes randomness completely changes everything. Sometimes we change the event by taking action and thus introducing unpredicted consequences. Sometimes we bias the data by seeing what we want to see rather than what is happening. Try as we might to predict the future, we are not perfect. Rock, paper, scissors. Flip a coin.
Humans like order and control. The universe is multidimensional chaos and disorder (entropy). Going with the flow is not easy. We all will experience times when everything is out of kilter and nothing seems to make sense anymore. That is when we are fortunate to have our friends and loved ones helping us. Rebuilding the shattered ruins of a life after a tragedy is damned tough. Having people take the time to help while they, too, are rebuilding is priceless. Not only are you helping rebuild someone’s life, you are rebuilding that person’s hope. Since we can’t accurately predict the future, we rely on hope to get us through our day-to-day lives. Tomorrow will be a better day. It only gets better from here. We hope things get better and that hope gives us the strength and incentive to try again tomorrow.
For those of you who endured a suboptimal (OK, lousy) 2012, I hope you are finding solace and hope in the new year. If 2012 was a good year for you, I hope 2013 is an even better year for you. Let your loved ones know you care and give them a meaningful hug!