Friday, March 2, 2012

Leap Year

ballerina on pointLeap Year

We have a whole extra day this year, like every 4 years, to make a celestial correction.  To me, this is like Physics: I don’t understand it and I just have to accept it.

Thus: In the Gregorian calendar, the current standard calendar in most of the world, most years that are evenly divisible by 4 are leap years. In each leap year, the month of February has 29 days instead of 28. Adding an extra day to the calendar every four years compensates for the fact that a period of 365 days is shorter than a solar year by almost 6 hours.

C’mon - how did somebody figure this out in 45BC?  I can’t keep track of time or days even though I wear a watch and carry a PDA – I guess when there were no watches or PDAs people had time to count and keep track of things like this.  Imagine the person who had to keep track in order to note that the years were about 6 hours short of a full 365 days.

And of course if there is something this important (at least it must have seemed important way back then), there are bound to be some funky folk traditions:
  • In the British Isles, it is a tradition that women may propose marriage only on leap years.
  • In Denmark, the tradition is that women may propose on the leap day (Feb 29th), and that refusal must be compensated with 12 pairs of gloves.
  • In Finland, the tradition is that if a man refuses a woman's proposal on leap day, he should buy her the fabrics for a skirt.
  • In Greece, marriage in a leap year is considered unlucky.
Of course there’s nothing funky at all about this: it’s just another one of those curiosities that we learned to live with as kids.  Like don’t put your tongue on a piece of cold metal in the winter. Or first seeing the big harvest moon or the northern lights. They were all part of the things that just were there and we accepted them because they’d always been there. Remember reading the Farmer’s Almanac like it was gospel and looking for an early sighting of woolly bear caterpillars or Punxsutawney Phil’s shadow as a prognostication of winter.  Life is full of these kinds of things, and when added to all the more real lessons we learned in school (public and religious), they shaped our lives.

And wherever you go throughout the world these same traditions hold true.  How they all got disseminated before the advent of the nightly news programs or computers is another curiosity for another day. For now, let’s just realize and feel good that there are many more things that bind us together than keep us apart.  There are more reasons to love and care about each other than there are to hate. And there are countless reasons to get up each day and passionately do what you do. Maybe these are the lessons to be learned and remembered on this extra leap year day.

My message this week is about learning to be close to others:

Arte Nathan"Snowflakes are one of nature’s most fragile things, but just look what they can do when they stick together."  -Vista M. Kelly

When’s the last time you sat and watched a snowfall. It really is pretty, and while you mostly focus on all of the individual flakes as they fall past your window, it’s only when you look down from afar that you fully appreciate how they all fit together. Same with making a snowman – getting a little snow, making it into a ball, and then rolling it along the ground to collect more and make a bigger ball that then joins with others to become the snowman. These are nice metaphors for putting things and people together and seeing how they all add up to more than the sum of their parts.  Teams are like that – all the individual talent becomes greater when it’s working together.  Sure it takes a bit of coordination, and everyone has to agree to play nicely together – but when it’s right it’s great.  Sort of like many voices singing in harmony - it’s heavenly and inspiring.  Find ways to stick together with those you’re with today, and see what you all can do.

Stay well!

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