- It was 2500 years ago in a pre-literate culture and reliable information is just a little hard to come by, so we don't take that too seriously, and
- We mark those days (especially the enlightenment one) by doing more of the same thing we do every day: sit in meditation. Okay, sometimes we have cake. But wild excitement is not the order of the day.
It's good to have those reminders that Buddhist teaching came from a human being, has been passed down to us through other human beings, and we're human beings too, and not only we can do what he and they did--understand and move past the causes of human anguish in order to grow peace and harmony in the world--but that it's a pretty important thing to do, and we should do it. They just lack the cultural and personal weight of whatever holidays we grew up with.
(On a side note, the "relentlessly secular" description breaks down pretty quickly: using a broad enough definition of "religion," I'm easily among the most religious people in my communities here in the Bay Area, and we're not slouches.)
So, for me, one year blends into the next. Same for birthdays: excellent opportunity for reflection and getting the friends together, but really, on my birthday I'm just a day older than I was the day before. It helps that I'm now reaching the age where I have to think about how old I am, because it doesn't matter so much. A lot of people feel time passing differently, though, and 2010 brought death and divorces and problems for many, as every year does. Facebook and IRC are inevitably full of things like "2010, you sucked. Good riddance."
I'm no optimist, but you know, 2010 was pretty awesome. I spent 9 months of it in Chile, far away from my girl, but learning and doing some pretty cool and useful stuff.
- Gave teaching a fair shake (notwithstanding the bizarrely restrictive and unproductive environment) and discovered I mostly like it and I'm good at it.
- Plowed through a bunch of ancient emotional crap from my younger days.
- Learned a lot: about second-language learning, cultural conditioning, Spanish, Chile, South America.
- Managed to keep meditating, and at a reduced level, doing aikido.
- Discovered that the girl and I can, if some lunatic need arises, not see each other for months at a time. Though we're cranky about it.
- Spent some time living with the girl and the kid, and having that all work really well.
Now I'm home, and 2011 has other adventures in store for me. Some of them might suck! But that's fine, too. =) I think it'll turn out just fine.
Happy New Year, everybody.