The New Year is upon us. It comes in from the East like a tsunami, rushing in, charging in at 463 m/s, faster than the speed of sound. If people were to shout Happy New Year to each other around the globe, they would still be late celebrating in the last time zone.
I don’t know about where it’ll begin. All I know is that 10 hours before my midnight on the 31st of December, it will be New Year’s Eve in Cape Town. A countdown, hours turning into minutes, then minutes into seconds, and it’s there, and then it’s gone. As people stay behind and celebrate and kiss each other, and wish all kinds of things smart and not, and as thoughts turn towards the horizon and the absents are silently hugged, the New Year will press on, silent and swift but unleashing great noise and cheers, in its westbound journey.
It will leave the Cape and immediately plunge into the Atlantic Ocean, hugging the bottom for a while as no ships are in sight on this lonely night, passing the Walvis Ridge off the coast of Namibia, then coming up to the surface to greet a freighter around the Tropic of Capricorn, without stopping, and it’ll follow the Mid-Atlantic Ridge to the northwest. It will cross the Equator and the Ascension Fracture simultaneously just off the shores of Brazil, follow the continent to the Lesser Antilles, overfly the deep Porto Rico Trench, cross the Tropic of Cancer and eventually hit the continental shelf in Florida.
It will blaze across the Sunshine State, pass the Mississippi Basin, scale the flat Midwest, rip through the dryer landscapes of Kansas, hop over the mountains, leave red rocks behind to the south, find the newborn lushness of the Pacific Northwest, the delta of the Fraser River and finally, 600 minutes after it left Cape Town, the New Year will wash over Vancouver nested between the mountains and the sea.
There, at the top of a tower, as the wave passes by and prepares for the hop over the Pacific Ocean, and cheers erupt and champagne flows, it will be my turn to look back and hug and mentally curse and yet marvel at, the passage of time and the relativity of space.
Happy New Year to mankind! May we all become wiser fast, suffer less, and laugh, and love more.
[Posted at 23:59 Cape Town time, on December 31st, 2007]