There is much residue left (or maybe 'preserved' is the better word) by each spent year; not at all like the dessert crumbs dismissed by a profligate man but rather like dew on leaves or water soaked in soil after a night's thick rain. Such residue is also man-made - penned, collected and captured in photos. Recorded.
Indeed this is the finest form of self-preservation. As one watches time sprint past in its running shoes, headed towards the negative axis of time, one jogs on, looking back and trying to memorize its fast-fading back. Not too devotedly as to lose track of one's own path or trip over an obstacle, but there are old threads we keep anyway and knit into our present. There are old violin strings I keep, untangled and coiled, so that they may be restrung again to deliver the concertos I played last year.
In most of us, there is probably a desire for reuse and recycle - a welcoming of time's relentlessness. Remembering the past is therefore a conscientious form of timekeeping, I like to think. It is the regular recognition of one's past selves and memories that conglomerate to feed the present self, which in turn will carry on to the future self - all of which snuggle within the heart-chambers of one person.
Thus the advent of each coming year chimes like the tick of a metronome, marking the scheduled notch of measured time; this is where one might slow down to a walk, turn back and marvel (or regret?) at the distance covered before turning around and picking up pace once more, climbing the linear line of life.
All I can do is take comfort in the likelihood that "I have miles to go before I sleep."
"...if this life of ours
Be a good glad thing, why should we make us merry
Because a year of it is gone? but Hope
Smiles from the threshold of the year to come
Whispering 'It will be happier.'"
- Alfred Lord Tennyson