Many who have grown up in Occidental culture find it difficult to grasp "cyclical time," assuming that they even try. I just realized that it's really easy.
Today is Wednesday, June 12th, 2002. Which of those four elements do you focus on? Linear time focuses on 2002. After that is 2003, then 2004, so on until the Last Judgement. But the other three parts are modular. After Wednesday comes Thursday, then Friday, and in a few more days it's Wednesday again... time to go to Keith's. This June is much like the last one, though a bit drier, thanks to the multi-year cyclic dance of El Niño and La Niña, sun spots, and western droughts (remember the dust bowl?). Haley's commet was disappointing in 1986, but it'll be back in the middle of the 21st century. Christmas comes but once a year, but 9/11 shall never come again. Christians, with rabbits and eggs, celebrate each year the death and resurrection of Jesus, which only happened once, right? The pagans know that the god dies every year, the goddes goes menopausal, becomes young, and gives birth to the god again, who later impregnates her with himself again. Your 21st birthday just marks the 7670th or so time the sun crested above the horizon during your life -- just like it did every day before and after your life.
Party on Saturday nights, school starts end of August, bills due on the 15th of each month. We live in cyclical time, so why are we so obsessed with 1/4 of the date? Legal milestones, long-range investing, remembering the way things used to be, planning for death. But just as the tree greens again, just with different leaves, the world too will spin on as it always has, just with different people. If you keep walking east, you'll return to your start gate; why not so with the other quarter of the space-time continuum?
- Music:Joseph Campbell's essay