The countdown to the end of 2016 – even for those who have shared a horrible year – means little

COLUMN: How we judge the measure of a year

The countdown to the end of 2016 – even for those who have shared a horrible year – means little, writes Lance Peverley.

For so many of us, the end of 2016 can’t begin soon enough. We’ve lost friends and family, endured personal misfortune and borne witness to senseless tragedy near and far.

(And yes, as so many have noted progressively in recent months and days, we’ve also lost creative strangers who have made an emotional impact in our individual lives.)

Yet, while this annus seems to be particularly horribilis for so many, it feels that there are those who truly think this weekend’s changing of a digit is a positive step, as though we’re on the brink of a newer, better year.

Certainly, we measure much of our time in 12-month cycles. Due to the happenstance of our seasonal rotations, 365 days seems about the right duration to mark the beginning and end of our countdown to the only inevitable, our final destination.

But, in the sense of achievements and personal growth, measuring the actual time itself means little. Whether we lament that Monday’s blue or thank God it’s Friday, the quantification we attach to our duration on Earth are only labels.

Our accomplishments – whether one values time spent with loved ones, the discovery of a new concept or even the acquisition of a prized possession – aren’t about the measurement of time, but what occurs during that time period.

And, I readily acknowledge, each symbolic New Year collectively gives us a moment to reflect on how – and how well – we spent the previous 8,760 hours.

Admittedly, 2016 hasn’t been a particularly good one for me personally. I’ve lost prematurely a beloved family member and too many friends along the way – including, alas, my very best friend last May – all whose memories deserve to be honoured for personal achievements as much as any celebrity.

And, I know, news of my losses pale in comparison to anyone else who’s going through any of the stages of grief at this particular moment in time, especially as the rest of the world seems to focus on those who had found fame and, at least seemingly, accompanying fortune.

Yes, the world has lost from its public stage a plethora of its artistic treasures – in a year that began with the premature passing of a starman and ended, I hope, with the untimely deaths of a star-making queen and her princess – many of whom have made my formative years more complete.

But 2016 has also brought about an estimated 131.4 million new people into the world – more than double the number of people who’ve left us. It would be woefully shortsighted to assume there are no new creative types who are destined to unleash their discoveries on the world – from artists and entertainers to philosophers and scientists and political leaders.

If I’m among the lucky to still be here 10, 20 or 30 years into our future (on this planet, not, hopefully, at the editor’s desk), I look forward to the new treasures from the birth-year of 2016 that I lack the imagination to predict.

If, however, my time comes to a premature end before I get to see the fruits of their mothers’ labours, to my surviving loved ones all I can say is the journey to this point has been unimaginably profound, and I urge you all to value – not just count – the time you have left.

Lance Peverley is the editor of Peace Arch News.