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I had planned to have planned this better...
Hello there :)
Welcome to issue thirty of Manufacturing Serendipity, a fortnightly newsletter which usually contains a loosely connected, somewhat rambling collection of the unexpected things I’ve recently encountered.
Next week, I promise faithfully to send you a delightful missive which contains exactly those things, but due to some spectacularly poor planning on my part, this is all I can manage for now.
It contains some thoughts I’ve been thinking which are pertinent to this time of year, and I hope you’ll consider this a bonus issue to tide you over until next week.
Dear reader, it’s a new year, but I’m not ready…
I had planned to have planned this better. I had planned to have made plans, set goals, and decluttered my brain.
I promised myself that I would kick off this year with a clear focus: to have figured out the things that I really want, and to be a position where I feel like I can go get them.
I make these plans and promises to myself every single year.
And every single year I break those promises, and fail to make those plans. This fills me with a creeping sense of dread and a stomach stuffed with slow-moving slugs.
IT’S A NEW YEAR, AND I’M NOT READY.
I recognise of course that this whole thing is silly. It doesn’t matter that I haven’t made those plans yet; I can make those plans at any point. The notion that I need to have made those plans prior to January 1st, or else all is lost, is entirely wrong-headed.
Calendars are just social constructs. According to the Gregorian calendar (the calendar most of us are tyrannised by) the new year begins on January 1st, and 2021 becomes 2022.
Whilst having a broadly adopted calendar system like this is undoubtedly useful (imagine how tricky scheduling meetings would be if each of us had our own unique calendar systems), the truth is, a year is just the time it takes for the earth to revolve around the sun. (Somewhat inconveniently, it takes the earth 365 days, 5 hours, 59 minutes and 16 seconds to orbit the sun, that’s why we chuck an extra day into the Gregorian calendar every four years.)
But my point is, that given that the earth is constantly revolving you could mark the new year on any damn day you wanted to.
For example, here in England, we didn’t adopt the Gregorian calendar until 1752, and prior to that, our new year started on March 25th, (traditionally nicknamed Lady Day). Plus, as I’m sure you’re aware, many people celebrate new year on another date.
I know this, and yet still I find myself weirdly wedded to January 1st.
I say weirdly wedded, because January 1st is an incredibly inconvenient day for the new year to begin.
I work maniacally through December, desperately trying to squeeze a whole month’s worth of work into about 3 weeks. Then it is Christmas which is lovely because I get to go stay with my Mum, and then I get to go stay with my Dad, and I leave my laptop at home so that I am present for them (rather than being distracted by work).
I typically get back to my flat (and my laptop) at around 11pm on 30th December. I will make my grand plans tomorrow, I promise myself.
But of course I don’t. I never do.
There’s always tonnes of other stuff that feels more immediate - things like my washing (how can I make grand plans when I’m almost out of clean pants?), going to the supermarket because there is no food in my flat, watering my plants, hoovering because the dust bunnies are multiplying at an alarming rate and are likely to suffocate me in my sleep.
So I do some of those things instead. To be clear, I do not do all of these things because what I really want to do is have a nice sit down and watch some magic tele. Long before my list of tasks is complete I succumb to the pull of the sofa, just one episode I promise myself. But then I accidentally fall asleep.
When I wake up it is dark and the day feels like it’s over. Of course it’s not over, it’s actually only 4pm, but because it’s dark outside I feel like it’s way too late in the day to be making grand plans.
It is then evening of New Years Eve, sometimes I do a thing, and sometimes I don’t do a thing, but either way, January 1st rolls around, and I once again find myself utterly unprepared for the new year.
Maybe you can relate; or maybe you are sat reading this, thinking: pull your finger out of your ass Hannah. (If you’re in the latter camp, know that the little voice in my head is hollering something similar at me right now.)
But for those of you who can relate: people who, like me plan to make grand plans ahead of January 1st, but fail to make those plans and then feel shitty about it, know that you’re not alone.
Remember that the Gregorian calendar is nothing more than a useful social construct. The new year begins any day you say it does, and you can make your own grand plans any day you want.
As I have said many times now, I have made no grand plans yet, but I will.
I have, however, made one new year’s resolution: in December 2022, rather than planning to make plans, set goals, and declutter my brain ahead of 1st January 2023, I will plan instead to slumber guilt-free on my sofa.
I will no longer be tyrannised by the Gregorian calendar*, from now on the new year can wait until I’m good and ready for it.
*I will of course still be observing the Gregorian calendar - life is complex enough without me suggesting meeting up on “12th of Hanuary” leaving you the thorny problem of figuring out when that date falls in 2022. (Hanuary is the first month of my own personal year, and could fall anywhere between February and June depending on my energy levels, mood, and menstrual cycle).
Happy New Year friends!
I hope it brings you all of the good things, and that you remember that the new year can begin whenever you choose.
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