Happy old year

Being conscious of time, last days and first days matter to me. What I seek most is significance, which in these days, first and last, is innate. On its last day, a year is gone forever. All its doings sink into the past and we put on a fresh one. Yet it's a significance that's hard to realise, since the sun will come up tomorrow just as it did today; at one minute past midnight we will be exactly the same as we were a minute before. Perhaps that's what surprises (disappoints?) us year by year. But these peregrinations of clock and calendar are our invention, the “little circles of the humanly known and believed.” Better, as this poem suggests, to break them open, and leave off counting. This is Wendell Berry, “2007.IV” from the collection “Sabbaths.”

In our consciousness of time
we are doomed to the past.
The future we may dream of
but can know it only after
it has come and gone.
The present too we know
only as the past. When
we say, “This now is
present, the heat, the breeze,
the rippling water,” it is past.
Before we knew it, before
we said “now,” it was gone.

If the only time we live
is the present, and if the present
is immeasurably short (or
long), then by the measure
of the measurers we don’t
exist at all, which seems
improbable, or we are
immortals, living always
in eternity, as from time to time
we hear, but rarely know.

You see the rainbow and the new-leafed
woods bright beneath, you see
the otters playing in the river
or the swallows flying, you see
a beloved face, mortal
and alive, causing the heart
to sway in the rift between beats
where we live without counting,
where we have forgotten time
and have forgotten ourselves,
where eternity has seized us
as its own. This breaks
open the little circles
of the humanly known and believed,
of the world no longer existing,
letting us live where we are,
as in the deepest sleep also
we are entirely present,
entirely trusting, eternal.

Is it concentration of the mind,
our unresting counting
that leaves us standing
blind in our dust?
In time we are present only
by forgetting time.