The Day the Sun Stands Still
December 22, 2011, is the day the sun stands still.
Don’t worry—it happens every year. It’s the winter solstice—a term derived from the Latin “sol” for “sun” and “sistere” for “to stand still”—and it refers to the day on which the sun reaches its farthest point from earth and appears to stop and begin to “reverse direction” until it reaches its point closest to the earth at mid-summer. (Of course, it’s actually the earth’s pole tilting away from the sun, but to an ancient earth-bound observer, it seemed that the sun had stopped to change course.)
The winter solstice also marks the first day of winter, and that fact creates an interesting irony. While the first day of winter is the shortest day of the year (the day with the fewest hours of daylight), it is also the point at which the days begin to get longer. In other words, just at the darkest moment, when we know we must start to hunker down for the winter season, Mother Nature lets us know that summer will come by having each day become progressively brighter.
It doesn’t happen on one dramatic act, but in a chain of incremental changes—the sun rising a minute or two earlier and setting a minute or two later each day—and it may be hard to remember in mid-January, when we’re shivering trying to dig out from a foot of snow. But it is inevitable, and the ultimate outcome is assured. If we get through the winter, we can count on spring and summer arriving.
It’s a lesson in persistence that we may want to take to heart as 2011 heads into its final week. Despite the bleak economy and often harsh bottom-line impact of industry change, there is still plenty of hope for a better outcome if we continue to move steadily and surely, even if slowly, in the right direction.
NAPL’s new Printing Industry Profile provides a clear picture of the industry as it stands today, and, in many ways it seems as though the days have been getting shorter—a 25% drop in printing establishments since 1998, two companies leaving the industry for every one coming in. But the Profile also offers answers to those wanting to know what “the right direction” is, and guidance on the sure and steady steps that can be taken to move towards a brighter business outlook.
Here’s to a healthy, happy, and increasingly prosperous New Year!