Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping into the future

For Your Consideration

For Your Consideration

Have you ever considered that your 57th birthday (or whatever one you are currently celebrating, is upcoming or just past) should actually be your 58th.

We never count the actual day of our birth.

But in fact, our actual birth day is our only birthday. The rest are all anniversaries of that day.

Measuring time is kind of a quirky thing. I can remember as a kid trying to wrap my head around why the 1900s were called the 20th century. Now it makes perfect sense, of course, by the time we got to the 1900s, 19 centuries had already passed.

The same way that as of Sunday at whatever hour and minute (I forget) I came into the world, 57 full years had passed putting me into my 58th year on Sunday. When I was a young, pretentious poet, that’s how I used to date my poems, eg., Summer, 19th year.

It took me a little while to get that straight, even now. Like I said, quirky.

For example, intuitively, one would think as of Jan. 1, 1900, we entered the 20th century, but that would be wrong. It was actually Jan 1, 1901.

No, I have not lost all of my pretension.

Remember at the end of 1999 — when the world was partying like it was 1999 — getting ready to welcome the third millennium and all us nerdy math types said, ‘hold on a second, the new millennium doesn’t start until 2001.’

I still have to work my way through the logic, but here goes.

For two full millennia to have passed by Dec. 31, 1999, there would have had to be a year 0. At the end of year zero, 1 year would have passed, at the end of year 1, two years etc., just as 57 had passed for me on June 7.

But that is not how it worked. Our current calendaring (the Gregorian) system didn’t even start until the sixth century when it was invented by the monk Dionysius Exiguus. Presuming Dionysius actually knew what year Jesus of Nazareth was born, he retroactively numbered the years backwards leading up to Jesus’ birth year and upwards following.

Thus, the year 1 C.E. (Common Era, formerly know as A.D.) directly followed year 1 B.C.E. (Before Common Era, formerly known as B.C.) That means by the end of 1999 only 1,999 full years had passed and 19 full centuries had only passed by Dec. 31, 1900.

Of course, despite all of our party-pooping, the world went on to welcome the new millennium in 2000 anyway.

And what does it matter anyway? What’s one or two years after all this time?

I’m starting to feel the same about my own birth day anniversaries. Before Sunday someone asked me how old I was going to be and I actually had to do the math.

It’s getting less important all the time.