Sunday, December 23, 2012

The End of the World

I have a confession to make.

For one entire year, I fretted about the last round of doomsday predictions.  When I say "round" it is because this was not the first "scare" that I have lived through.  There was that big one in 1960.  Kids on the school bus talked about it, I honestly lost sleep over it.  To a twelve year old, fears of death were just starting to ripen and all this talk from the older and wisers, the eighth graders, resulted in abject horror, too great to even share with my parents.  I held it all in and when I woke up on January first, my new life began and I was just as carefree and certain as I had been taught, that there would be no warning, that the thief would come in the night and that we should live our lives ever-ready for that night.

Then came the big promotion for the newest prediction.  This one had some teeth to it.  Not only was there Nostradamus, but now there was the Mayan calendar.  The Mayans, uneducated, unsophisticated, they did not even have a pencil......yet, it was they who were going to tell us that the world was going to end on the exact date of December twenty first, two thousand and twelve and not a day before or later.  Who could possibly argue with them? First of all, there was not one Mayan around to question and then, well, they did such a great job building an entire civilization without Sears Roebuck at their Mall.  Amazing feat by infallible people, skilled mathematicians, who eventually made calendars after completing the civilization project to a tee.

Supermarket check out lanes were lined with news proclaiming that the time would soon be upon us.  Books were written.  Movies were made.  Time was ticking away.  Each hurricane, typhoon, earthquake and disaster, natural or made at the hands of mad men, affirmed my own belief that things were getting worse and worse and surely those Mayans were dead accurate.

I actually started taking comfort in the thought that soon, it would be curtains for all of us.  No worry about bills, no fear of chronic disease.  Travel, live it it all before December of 2012.  I even took some comfort in thinking that soon I would see my mother again.  I went as far as telling my friends and they were starting to believe me.  I became a regular Daughter of Doom and I was ready for the big day.

But, the day came and the day went and nothing happened.  Slowly, I began to recall that those who had tried to give us hints and let us know that the Mayans did NOT intend for the world to end, might be right.  Did they simply run out of chalk?  No more stone tablets?  Did they have other great objectives for a new calendar style after December twenty first.  Perhaps the Calendar Management team got distracted?  A strike in the village?  One can only guess and take a deep breath.  We can all sleep better now....or can we?

Mayan calendar be damned.  December twenty first, it will come again and again but there is some truth here.  It is the end of time as we have known it, especially if one is considered a Baby Boomer.  We had our time and it was magical.  We had very few cares or fears.  Our parents did all the scary stuff just a few years before when they bravely lived through a world war but our time, it was post-war and we thought it was pure bliss and we feared nothing other than the stern discipline of our parents who were determined to keep our world safe and beautiful as they climbed toward prosperity.  We played on the streets in our neighborhoods, went trick or treating with our friends, went to the movies on Saturday afternoons.   Our world was amazingly simple and we thought everyone was perfect.  It was years later that we learned that our friends parents had drinking problems, gambling addictions, unfaithfulness, depression, abuse or hosts of other imperfections.  Well-hidden.  What we didn't see, did not exist and we would never have looked beyond our Ginny dolls and Schwinn bikes.

It is the end of time as we knew it and we all know what I'm talking about.  The world ended a long time ago and it keeps on ending and we keep on thinking that we can blame it on a bunch of innocent early civilizations.  But we can't.  They didn't have airplanes to fly into towers of buildings that they also did not have.  Nor did they have guns or wars or simplistic solutions to big problems.  People in schools with guns, good guys ready to turn bad to shoot bad guys who thought of simple solutions to their own complex problems.  Brains, in the wrong heads, weapons of mass destruction.  They kill us, we kill them back.  Dumb.

All the Mayans had was a calendar that became a weapon of mass hysteria.  Perhaps, the days they ran out of should have stayed run out.  They knew we didn't need a calendar to end our world. Smart.

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