Mankind has always sought to have mastery over time. We have always desired such great and wonderful things as the ability stop aging, or to go back in time and correct huge mistakes. Whether it is by searching for an illusive Fountain of Youth or by driving an awkward looking Irish sports car from the 80’s at exactly 88 miles per hour, man has always been fascinated with the idea of controlling time.
Yet with all the great scientific advances, time has always been the kid in grade school who was considerably more agile than anyone else in your class and was just impossible to catch in freeze tag.
Humanity, in its ever growing cleverness, came up with an idea to outsmart time. Maybe we couldn’t control it, per se, but we could at least manipulate it. We could put it into categories that we could understand. Hours. Days. Years. Through organizing time, we could therefore have a greater grasp on it, thus being the first step towards having complete control.
That’s right: your concept of time isn’t a universal understanding. It’s just a bunch of labels given by men to try and master the concept.
No longer did we just have vague terms like “night” or “day”. We had studied time, so we knew how long days actually were, and how long it took to go all the way around the sun. We gave ourselves glorious terms like, “Afternoon”, proving just how powerful we had become.
Like any advancement, though, it wasn’t good enough. Eventually, we even thought that we be all cute and clever and invent things like “Daylight Savings Time”, where we moved time back and forth to account for the natural shifting of daylight.
The entire concept sounds like it came together one night while a bunch of government leaders were getting drunk together. It started as a raucous party, and eventually someone said, “Wait guys, let’s just TOTALLY move hours around to save money on people using our electricity during this first World War!” Everyone agreed, and they woke up the next morning with a headache and a brand new law none of them remember signing.
This is how most Congressional decisions are made.
We should have known that at some point, like cross breeding bees or the Weapon X project, our attempts to alter the natural order would come back to bite us.
Our arrogance caught up to us. In our efforts to put time into a box and control it, we had made a huge mistake. We had taken the time it took the Earth to spin around and made it into a 24 hour day. We had taken the time it took the Earth to move around the sun and labeled it as 365 days.
But we were wrong. It took 365 days and six hours.
These six hours couldn’t go unnoticed. Every four years, they must be accounted for. An extra day, February 29th, is added onto the Gregorian Calendar to serve as a reminder of when we tried to control time, and time played us for the fool.
A Leap Year seems like a harmless thing. People think that it is special and should be celebrated because it only happens once every four years. The common practice is to joke that anything that happens on a Leap Day doesn’t count, because it’s not a real day.
But it is a real day. More real than most days. A real, and horrifying day. It comes along every four years to screw up everything we thought we knew about time. Our routine, our order, is thrown off by a day that doesn’t belong.
February 29th is an abomination of a day.
Truthfully, a Leap Day ought to be a somber day. It should serve as a reminder of man’s arrogance, and inability to control the natural order. A reminder that with each passing second, entropy takes its toll. A reminder that ultimately, with deadlines, aging, and death, time still rules us all.
So happy Leap Day, everybody!