December 31, 2009
The Zero Years

There seems to be a growing consensus around the Internet that the decade that is coming to a close today was one of the worst in memory, even the "worst decade ever", on a variety of measures, from politics to economics. I can hardly disagree with that, and from a personal perspective, I can add that for me it was quite easily the worst decade of my life. I remember that when we entered 2000, many people were wondering what the new decade should be called -- it's easy enough to talk about the Nineties and the Eighties, but what do we call the 00's? This was when we started hearing expressions like the Aughts and the Naughts and the "Naughty Aughties". But it was already clear to me a few years ago that these were the Zero Years -- just one great big Zero, right from the start. I don't want to go into details, but let's just say that, starting just in time in 2000, this decade took me on a journey to some of the worst places I've ever been, and never want to go to again, my own personal Zero.

If this all sounds a little too depressing for your taste, go on over the jump, because things are looking up.

It's just a funny coincidence, but the end of the Zeroes seems to be going hand in hand with the end of my own Zero Years. I got the worst part of it behind me, and changes are coming up in the new year that are likely to put me on a much better path into the future. After a long streak of misfortune that seemed like it would never end, a lucky streak has apparently begun. There will be ups and downs of course, but I have good reason to be confident that I won't fall back into that less-than-zero state I was in not long ago, probably not in the next ten years, hopefully not ever again.

The New Year's celebration always seems so delightfully silly, since we make a big party out of an event that's really altogether arbitrary. The fact that we change the years on our calendars now rather than, say, four and a half months later is a decision made by pure fiat, which we could just as arbitrarily change if we really wanted to. But there's no reason to do that, so we keep on changing the years on this date, and celebrate it by getting drunk and blowing stuff up. A year is a long time, and a decade, century or millennium are especially so, so that the sense of monumental change is powerful and yet wholly illusory. We know that, but we feel it anyway. And it makes any other changes that just happen to coincide with the time transition seem highly significant (even though they could have happened any other time).

But what the hell? If an illusion helps to make something happen, if it gives me a psychological boost where I need one, I'll take it. My Zero Years are over, and good riddance, I'm ready for a new era to begin.

1 comment:

Geoff, I wish you all the best for the next decade and that your Zeroes are over!
Matthias Fraas - January 01, 2010-10:03
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