Thursday, December 20, 2012

Thoughts on the end of the world

There’s a blizzard warning where I am. Right now it’s just pretty – a firm but so-far gentle snow blanketing the ground with a layer of white. The wind is blowing hard enough that there are spots where greenish and brown vegetation still shows through. But the people who know about such things insist the layer will be at least a foot deep in a few hours.

Tomorrow the world ends in a blaze of fire, according to some folks who have drawn conclusions based on an ancient civilization’s calendar. As one explanation I saw noted, the world did not end when we got to the end of the 2011 calendar, and so it’s likely that the day after the end of the Mayan calendar, life will go on for most of us. And if there are Mayans left among us, they’ll mark the first day of a new epoch.

Everything and everyone does end, of course, although probably not all at once. I’m approaching the end of my sixth decade here, and I’ve seen my share of confused and frightened people who were absolutely positive that the world was going to end on such and such a date.

Tragically, some of them were right in a way, as they decided to end their own lives on or before that date. It was indeed the end of the world for them. For the rest of us, the world went on.

You do need to wrap your mind around the certainty that your stay on this world is finite. It’s not a bad or a good thing, this dying stuff, it’s just the way it is. Understanding that lends a certain degree of urgency to doing whatever it is you believe it’s important to do.

It’s a source of freedom, actually; if you knew you were going to die soon, how would you choose to live your life? Well, sooner or later you ARE going to die, so why not live that way now? Go ahead and write that novel or build that house or preserve that marsh or do those good deeds you always wanted to get done. Start building your legacy today, and you’ll have that much more time to build a big and solid one.

I’m guessing that the world will not end in a blaze of fire tomorrow, and so later today I’ll head out with the snowblower. My bet is that the snow will not melt in a firestorm in the morning, and I will get to keep working and fulfilling my purpose. And so will you. Someday the world will end for both of us, but probably not today or tomorrow.

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