By most modern reckoning, this is the "new year". We've passed some arbitrary marker that divides one period of solar revolution from another, and we've tied festivals and celebrations to mark the transition. Ritual is important. It helps us create and preserve meaning. It helps us forge and maintain social connections. It gives us a sense of community and belonging. The rituals that we share help reinforce our feelings of being part of a group, and those emotional ties are what make us a family, a community, a society, and not just a collection of individuals.
However, let us remember that these rituals are themselves arbitrary. The events that spawned any given ritual are not to be trivialized, but of the uncountable events that have occurred since history began, to choose some subset of them and mark them for rememberance above all others is to grant them a meaning and significance that far outstrips their actual import. Worse, to assume that they are somehow universal, even for their widespread adoption, is to display an arrogance that stresses one's own role in the universe as being far beyond its due.
This is not to say that ritual should be trivialized; see my initial points above. However, the rituals and celebrations that we accept should be personal rituals. They should be things which are important to us, and to our friends and family. We should be growing our celebrations and our traditions ourselves. Accept the rituals that your parents gave to you, but understand their sources and decide for yourselves if the reasons you celebrate are your reasons or theirs. There is no reason why your religious holiday should be mine, my celebration of independence should be yours. Our holidays may overlap, and we may mistake commonality of time for commonality of meaning, but even two people who celebrate the same festival may not celebrate for the same reasons.
With that in mind, I hope that for everyone who celebrated over the turning of the Gregorian calendar, you had a good time and that you got out of the events more than you put into them. The mark of any successful ritual, in my opinion, is that you come away from it feeling as though the prepration and anticipation felt beforehand were more than worthwhile in the end. If they weren't... perhaps you should consider the reasons and find some new holidays.
I suppose in many ways this post is an ACK. The last few months have been somewhat crazy for me, mostly for reasons that have little to do with anything I've openly discussed here. The short form is that our finances since moving to Seattle have been in what I can only describe as Slow Leak Syndrome. Because the house has not sold yet, I spend a little more on fixed expenses every month than I earn, which means every month I'm sitting on a little more credit card debt than I did the month prior. While I realize that this situation is hardly unfamiliar to the average American household, who at last measure was spending USD100.60 for every USD100.00 earned, this is an awkward and uncomfortable situation for me, since the last time I was in this kind of predicament, I was unemployed and trying to scrape by on the collective rents of my roommates and a paper route that ultimately destroyed my seventh or eighth car. The MPS, if anyone else is keeping score.
Those were not happy times. Living in their shadow again, even for theoretically positive reasons like "I have too much real estate", puts me just a little bit on edge. I'm not in any real danger; I have plenty of cushion on which to fall if I need it, and if push comes to shove I can call my folks and they've already said they'll be more than willing to help out. It's just that every little expense adds up, and instead of eating into the monthly savings, it's adding to the monthly debts.
In fact, the reason why the Ranch hasn't been updated in two months at this point is honestly because I've been having a hard time justifying the kinds of expenditures that would serve as the incentives behind the project, and in the absense of the positive feedback those incentives would provide, I've been letting the whole thing languish. That's not to say that I haven't been at least trying to stick to my goals, but the formula of rewards for good behavior has been hard to execute when the rewards aren't in the budget.
On the whole, I think we've adjusted to living on the Left Coast pretty well. Jessie's in the middle of some new projects. I've been playing a lot of City of Heroes, but at the same time I've been developing what I'd like to consider a fairly rich narrative for the characters involved. Admittedly, it feels a little like downgrading to paint-by-numbers after the freehand of building my own setting and running it every other week, but that game finally took off again after a three-month hiatus for general insanity, and with any luck, tomorrow night will also be as much a success as last week. I've had a number of other projects that I've at least nominally started to keep my creativity flowing, I added a whole page to my novel in the last month, and in general I think the new living arrangements have been conducive to better mindset.
At the very least, I know they've helped Jessie, and that makes my mood much better.
One thing I have finished, or at leastcompleted-to-the-point-of-utility is the Lapinian calendar. The funny date above links to its description. The days of the week and the months of the year were taken from legal words in living languages. As an exercise, why not try to determine the pattern and identify the meanings of the words? These may or may not form the basis later of a Lapinian language, but if they do, then I think these will be a good start.
Right now I'm not sure in what direction Lapinia is growing. It's less than a micronation, more than a fad. It's a culture, a state of mind, a worldview, and an association of people who share it. It's a faction, if anything: a culture and history and symbology all encapsulated in a label. What it becomes is as much a factor of who I become as anything else. Right now, it's an ideal to which I'd like to hold myself, and I think it's an ideal worth sharing with others.
Come sail away with me.