It Is 2017. But What Is “It”?

What does the “it” mean
In “What time is it?”
And “It is snowing”?

It’s a new year
At least according to most of the world—
A year that is so far along the chain of time
I shiver when I think about it
Because it makes no sense at all
In my own mind’s window on time.

“It” again. “It” makes no sense.
“It” is a new year.
But what is it?
At this late date, I should know.
We should know.
The mystery of “it” should have been solved
By now.

As I write, it’s still 2016.
When this comes out
It will be 2017.
It will have shifted.
It will have entered a much-celebrated transformation
Heralded with parties, feasts, light-headedness
And stupor.

It will be new.
Will we sense the newness of it
Whatever “it” might be?

Newness is good, usually, unless it heralds decline
Or death.
And even then:
Decline and death could push it
Whatever it is
Into a fabulous phase
Of touching, seeing, knowing, feeling, and loving
That we can’t fathom right now
Or even imagine fathoming.
Let’s be optimistic for once, OK?
We’re at the dawn of what most of the world sees
As a new year
And we’re part of the world
Whether or not we want to be.

Right now, it is 12:14 p.m. on the last Monday of 2016
According to my computer here in Cambridge, MA.
But what is 12:14
Or, actually, now 12:15
In this part of the world?
It just moved ahead, whatever “it” might be.
Maybe “it” can’t be captured at all
Can’t be held down.
“It” is the sum total of all that is, everywhere
And throughout everything that exists.

“It” may be snowing in Boston but sunny in Madrid
Because it’s complex like that
And mysterious in all its manifestations.

All I ask is the merest ability to touch it or even sense it—
I mean, slightly less mere than my current ability.
I want to say: “It is now 2017” or “It has been a life-changing day”
And feel a tickle or a shove or a pat
Maybe physical, maybe metaphorical
But not metaphorical in the sense of
“I have no idea what it’s all about, but I will trust that it has its ways.”
No! If “it” is a metaphor
It has to hint at something real
Something, you know, part of objective reality.
Objective in the sense that our minds, our way of sensing
Can at least intuit it
If not now, then eventually.

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It is so strange
Whatever “it” might be
Because I wasn’t expecting it to reach this point
When I started this poem.

I started off thinking “it” was something…
Not mundane, exactly
Not concrete.
But I didn’t predict that my thoughts on “it”
Would veer towards notions that reminded me of God.

Please understand that I don’t necessarily mean
That “it” is God.
I don’t know if I believe that anything
Fitting the description of God
Even exists.

I do believe in It.
We mean something when we say
“It is almost time to get going”
Or “It’s a real shame that things wound up like this.”
Don’t we?

But we could just mean
A feeling, a sense, a shared understanding
Or even an overarching sense of everything that exists and is felt.
Why do I always have to bring in the mystical, the “beyond”
An escape hatch from life as it seems
To those who don’t sense anything like God
Or even hope for something “more”?

I couldn’t just have a cute, funny meditation on “it”
Like I had intended?
I had to bring in God? Or Whatever?
(God doesn’t necessarily capture it for me
But neither does “it,” so I’m confused.)

OK, look, I am who I am:
A doubting mystic.
An almost spiritual soul.
“Almost” because there are times
When I’m sure there’s nothing “else”
But “spiritual” because at those times
I wither, then grow back into myself
And scream.


***Image Credit: “Happy New Year” by Ivan David VQ, January 3, 2015