I did a presentation at a library the other day about my books. As I was signing several copies, as is my usual practice, I put the year below my signature. When I signed the last book, the date 2022 appeared strange to me, as if I had made a mistake.
2022 seemed more a title for a science fiction movie than an accurate (if somewhat illusory) representation of the date. The number itself, being based on the old concept of Anno Domini (AD), now more commonly replaced with CE (Common Era), is but a mere representation of passaging time.
Contrary to what may seem like political correctness run amok, using CE instead of AD is not something new. It is found in writings dating back to 1700s and in even earlier writings was called Vulgaris Aeare, Vulgar Era, and often used interchangeably with CE as early as the 1600s.
But since I have run on AD time since birth, the number stood out as I looked at it. A surreal feeling beyond Déjà vu where I wasn’t confused by a feeling of having been here before, but by one of how it was I got here in the first place.
It was as if I awoke like Rip Van Winkle to find myself in an unfamiliar future.
This momentary confusion passed, but the feeling of being out of synch with time lingered.
As one ages, it seems only natural to consider the realities of mortality. The year I was born, 1956, I had a high probability of living 75 to 80 years. As one ages, the probability of such longevity naturally declines until one reaches a stage where a commitment to a two-hour movie is a gamble.
I’m not quite at that stage yet, but the time left to me is significantly less than what it was in 1956. I can remember conversations with friends when we were in school about how we would be forty-four years old in the year 2000. A year now over two decades in the past.
For people of my generation, 1984 carries a certain eeriness about it thanks to Mr. Orwell. To those born after 1984 (many of whom are now thirty-eight years old), it is just a year gone by. Time, and our relationship to it, is certainly relative.
This piece is not meant to be depressing. While I do not adhere to any myth of an anthropomorphic god waiting on a cloud for me to arrive, or perhaps redirect me to an alternative forever abode, I can’t help but believe something carries on when we leave this mortal coil.
The scientist in me believes the body to be a combination of electrical and chemical reactions culminating in life. Life doesn’t require a mystery to exist, just conditions. But there is that one element, something that, so far, eludes scientific explanation, and is fundamental to our lives, consciousness.
The religious, absent any scientific explanation, relinquish the genesis (no pun intended) of the phenomenon to the intercession of a god. Others think is just a more complex function of life which we will someday understand.
I fall somewhere in between.
Cogito Ergo Sum. I think therefore I am, offers a glimpse at this mystery. It acknowledges its existence without offering any explanation for it. I think therefore I am. I believe that element within us—the imagination, consciousness, whatever you call it that we all have—survives death and continues.
Where this continuity takes us remains to be seen, but it is nothing to fear. While I intend to enjoy every moment left to me and hope to be someday signing books in the year 2056 for my 100th birthday, a part of me is looking forward to finding out.