The end of the world
Since man took his first shaky intellectual steps, we’ve been thinking about The Final Day. All religious beliefs contain some sort of Day of Reckoning, and implicit in this is the belief that Someday It Will All End.
The Maya Indians believed that this would come to happen on December 21 of 2012. Okay, so they were predicting this back in the sixth century or so, when the year 2012 was so far into the future as to be impossible to ever reach. Yet here we are, rapidly approaching this date, and while I have no idea if the Maya Indians living today still subscribe to this belief, Hollywood has made quite a mint these last few years exploiting this particular prophecy.
I sincerely hope the ancient Mayans were wrong. I have places to go, things to do – like publishing each and every one of my books in The Graham Saga – so having the world come to an end in approximately a month would be most inconvenient. But I do enjoy watching a good apocalyptic movie as much as anyone else does, and …
Wait, wait wait. Compared to my dear best friend, I’m an amateur in “The End is nigh” movies. She knows chunks of dialogue by heart, and she’ll sit with her legs pulled up and an avid expression on her face saying things like “wait for it, honey, just wait until you see these amazing effects” or “Pah! This is nothing – and BTW, he dies.”
Given that more or less everybody dies, that’s unnecessary information, but it sort of takes the oomph out of the movie if there’s no one to root for. So while Best Friend is engrossed in the movie, I spend most of it studying her. (Bet you didn’t know that, honey :))
Whatever; the other day I started considering the possibility that maybe those Mayan priests were right. If so, we have less than a month left in which to enjoy life as we know it. Gulp, gulp, gulp …
What would you do if there was a finite amount of time left?
Me, I have no real idea. What I do know, is that I wouldn’t want to know – and I would prefer it if we were all kept in the dark, as I suspect many of the fouler sides of human nature would float to the surface in such a situation. I don’t believe people in general face calamities with grace; I think fear diminishes us, rips off that very thin veneer of civilisation that supposedly differentiates us from the rest of creation. Take the Estonia catastrophe for example; in 1994 a ferry sank into ice cold Baltic Sea, carrying a varied complement of women, children and men of all ages. The overwhelming majority of the survivors were young, fit men, men who had not stayed behind to act the hero by saving the odd crying child or weeping woman, but thought only of Numero Uno – as all of us probably do in such situations, unless it’s our kids.
So; please don’t tell me if the end is nigh, leave me to live out the remaining days in a little bubble of self-delusion, okay?
When my kids were young I used to have complicated “What If” plans drawn up, should some terrible catastrophe happen.
Step one; round up kids.
Step two; get out of the city.
Step three: become self-sufficient hunters/gatherers – alternatively have a huge amount of tinned goods stowed away somewhere. (My “What If” plans covered far more that the above: “In case of tidal wave approaching beach …” was yet another plan, as was “What to do if in supermarket with kids when it’s being robbed”. Neither here nor there…)
Anyway, back to the subject at hand; I suspect that should there be an announcement along the lines of “Ehhemm; we interrupt this episode of Dancing with the Stars to bring you all some important news. It breaks my heart to tell you this, but as of December 21, 2012, this lovely planet of ours will be no more, and …” I would probably dust off these old plans of mine and set about organising a final family get together. An eternal optimist, I’d decide that while most of the world might be reduced to ashes and rabble, some spots would survive intact – like where my house is. Besides, if there were only thirty odd days left, I would want to spend each and every one of those precious moments with people I love – and perhaps do some final editing to my books.
While most people would be in some sort of panic or denial at being told the world was about to end, some would consider it to be entirely in line with their beliefs.
The environmentalists would probably nod and say “See, we told you. There’s no such thing as a free ride, and this is Mother Nature setting things right again.” (Plausible if this End of the World thing ONLY affects the human race, not so plausible if the planet and all its lifeforms are destroyed.)
Those that believe in a hereafter, in a God that creates and therefore can uncreate, would also nod and say “See, we told you. This is where the sinners go to hell and we go to heaven.” (I wouldn’t be too sure …) Me, I’d stop sleeping, I would spend the nights staring at the stars, bathing in the moonlight, the days revelling in the sunlight, or the rain, the fog, the storm, the blizzard – heck whatever type of weather, as long as I was still around to experience it.
I said, didn’t I, that I don’t really believe that the Mayas were right. But just in case, I thought it appropriate to end this post with a prayer:
Dear God; at times I imagine you sitting in a huge armchair, an apparition in dazzling white garments and boots of the finest dark red Moroccan leather. In your hands you hold a globe, a fragile thing that shimmers in blues and greens. This was once a perfect little orb, but by now it has its shares of dents and smudges, and when you set it to whirl on your fingertip it wobbles a bit, no longer as perfectly balanced as when it was new. Here and there it sags, the surface is covered in myriads upon myriads of miniscule creatures, and each and every one of them has a soul, has a name. Dear God; however tempting it might be to crumple this your creation into a lopsided ball and throw it into the dustbin, please don’t. So many of us have dreams to fulfill, children to raise, lives to live. Yes, I know we must be something of a disappointment to you, and many of us could do with a sharp lesson or two. But most of us are doing as well as we can down here, most of us try to be good. Once upon a time Abraham convinced you to spare a whole city on behalf of a single good man. Please do a repeat on that, please keep our world spinning a little while longer, okay?
I’m not sure if God would listen – or even worse, care. At times I get the distinct feeling that he has left us to our fate, investing his considerable energy and creative forces elsewhere. So I’d hazard we’ll still be here on December 22, and on February 7, and on June 23. That’s a good thing, right? I mean, it gives us time to improve on our sad track record and start taking care of our wonderful little planet. If not, maybe one day God will stretch out his hand and flip the switch labelled sun from “on” to “off”. I just hope he doesn’t tell us before he does.