Closing time

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By Mags Z. Maglana

The Point Being

Friday, December 27, 2013

IT IS closing time of sorts; 2013 will bow out in a few days, giving way to 2014. Greetings of "Happy New Year!" have replaced "Merry Christmas!" As can be the case in a world where one is part of the majority, it is very easy to assume that everyone is having the same experience.

But other people around the globe are not necessarily keeping time using the Gregorian calendar, which is referred to as the civil calendar (which begs the question, the other ones are not?) or more telling, the Christian and Western one.

There is also the Hijri calendar of the Muslims, which is lunar as opposed to the Gregorian that is solar-based. Although the Hijri calendar also has 12 months, it is shorter by 11 days than the Gregorian one.

Muslims in the Philippines celebrated the Al Hijra/Amun Jadid/Muharram or the Islamic New Year for1435 AH (Anno Hegirae) on November 4, 2013.

The Buddhist calendar is considered luni-solar and varies from country to country. Hence, Buddhists celebrate the end of a year and the start of a new one differently depending on the Buddhist tradition they subscribe to and where they are. Buddhists in Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Burma, Thailand, and Lao have three-day New Year celebrations on the day of the first full moon in April. Those in China, Vietnam, and Korea revel either in January or the early part of February, and Buddhists in the Tibetan region mark theirs in March.

It has been pointed out though that if one is truly mindful, each point in time holds the same significance as the vaunted New Year, hence the light-hearted Buddhist greeting "Happy New Moment!"

These musings bring home the point about how time is so much a part of our everyday and how it marks the high points our lives. Think about how notions of time pepper our language - "Panahon na para wakasan ang pork barrel system!" "You have to have time for yourself." "It was very timely that the Annex on Power-Sharing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro got signed before the end of the year." "Nagdagan ang oras, mora'g wala lagi sila nagdali sa pagsulbad sa problema sa kalisud dinhi sa atong nasud." "I had the time of my life last night."

The jury is still out on the question whether humans invented time. But it is accepted that we thought up ways of perceiving and reckoning it. We use markers like hours, days, months, years and eons, to periodize amount and passage of time.

I think that among other things, marking time is a way of figuring where we are as part of our lifelong quest of understanding who we are and where we are heading. Imagine what an interminable stretch it would be to respond to "What day is it" with an "I do not know; day 16,380 maybe?" as opposed to "It is Saturday; yikes, I have classes today." Hence, for us humans, beginnings and endings are part of what we live with and live by.

And so 2013 is coming to a close. I have heard both sides of the narrative - people who want to linger some more this year, and those who have already moved on to 2014.

But if one thinks about it, except for those who had to go ahead, everyone still alive today had the same 525,600 minutes which was as fleeting and as slow, as heartbreaking and as pleasurable, as significant and as humdrum as one and the company and the codes that one keeps made it.

I made peace with the ineffable year that was 2013 and am preparing for 2014 with the reminder that I had a year. There is no need to cling to it or shun it and much less beat myself over it. Because I know, genetic coding, choice, chance and confluence permitting, I will have a crack at another one. So Mabuhay 2013! and Mabuhay 2014!

The point being that whether one chooses to go with Lao Tzu ("New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings") or with the band Semisonic ("Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end") closing time is also beginning time. I hope that you have found a friend and that you know whom you want to take you home.


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Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on December 28, 2013.


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