Bill

by L. G. William Chapman, B.A., LL.B.

Happy New Year!  Welcome to 2016, a new year on the civil calendar (also known as the “Western calendar” or “Christian calendar”) commonly denominated the Gregorian calendar named after Pope Gregory XIII who introduced it by papal bull Inter gravissimas dated 24 February 1582.

The Gregorian calendar reformed the Julian calendar because the Julian calendar introduced an error of 1 day every 128 years. The introduction of the Gregorian calendar allowed for the realignment with astronomical events like equinoxes and solstices, however a number of days had to be dropped when the change was made.

The rule for calculating Leap Years was changed to include that a year is a Leap Year if:
The year is evenly divisible by 4;
If the year can be evenly divided by 100, it is NOT a leap year, unless;
The year is also evenly divisible by 400. Then it is a leap year.

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Christopher Clavius (1538 – 1612) one of the main authors of the reform.

As for a fresh start? Not bloody likely! Speaking for myself at least, my history of renovation is hardly exemplary. For any new year’s resolution a sustained modification of little more than a week is the probable duration of the project.  And it is equally assured that I shall as soon embrace my erstwhile fortune.

I have decided that in view of the seasoned realities of life (among them, that nothing is perfect, no one is perfect, nothing changes, nobody’s listening and nobody cares) I am just as well to accommodate the blemishes and forego the annual fervency for refurbishment. This isn’t so much a forfeiture as a capitulation, the distinction being it isn’t a loss or penalty rather a surrender with agreement.  How much less painful it is to adopt than to reject! Besides so often our presumptions and preferences are founded on shifting sand, hardly worthy of dignified substance and punishing commitment.

To abandon the yearly cause for renovation is not however to lose faith or to let go of one’s principles. I prefer to view it as a fermentation, rather an improvement upon an immaturity. Imagining that we shall forever hold onto originality, novelty or springtime of any other description is as preposterous as to assume the seasons shall not change.  The pink of youth must inevitably fade.  I am learning to embrace the patina of age, not as a resignation but as an evolution.  All that we are and all that we know is subject to the law of amortization, unglamorous decay in a word.

Meanwhile I amuse myself to contemplate the perpetuity of indulgences, those gratifications from which we so often attempt to distance ourselves.  This afternoon for example as I pedalled along the winding paths under the cavernous foliage of ferns and palmettos I saw a middle-aged man brazenly light a cigarette and then punctuate his unabashed frivolity by bidding us a cheery “Hello!” as we sped by him, we who were the picture of athleticism.  I had to admire him, displaying such disregard on the first day of January!  Was he, I wondered, recovering as well from alcoholic wastefulness?  The scope of his feasible extravagance was staggering!  Because I have no longer these once fashionable habits from which to resile it is with but a degree of wistfulness that I reflect upon the gratification they formerly afforded. I am further plunged into a humourless philosophic rumination upon the debate between Abstinence and Enjoyment as the key to a happy life and the conflicting statistics about premature death and self-inflicted wounds.  Or is it all about the via media, everything in moderation?  And I am never certain which is worse, moderation or abstinence.

Last evening as I absently speculated upon the advent of the New Year, I recalled how far I have estranged myself from all but a few of my favourite material possessions (though even those that remain remind me of unstoppable deterioration).  It is however comforting to know that the withering of life’s treasures is confined to a select few, a happy corollary to the pithy adage that you can’t have money and things. It is I suppose a metaphor of how I cling to life that I cling to my ardor for material things, tempered as they now are by utility.  Quite honestly I haven’t any envy for the gusto of others to appease their corporeal objectives.  Mine is now an intellectual or abstract vernacular embellished not by hardware but by hard thinking.  Oh, the weary proceeds of age! Yet it is no deprivation.  The exhaustion of the appetite ensures the feeding of the spirit instead.

So here I am on the first day of January, 2016, on the cusp of those frontiers of the past and the future that is the present. I shall not contaminate my enthusiasm for the New Year by dawdling in hopeful or hopeless transitions.  How irresponsible it is to fathom change!  Far better it is to absorb the strength of the moment.  Besides we haven’t time to derail the manifestation of our being by trifling detours.  Our headstrong dedication must be to what awaits at our doorstep!

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