Vast dome of god-magma, spare us!
That was close. Had we chosen a different calendar, things might have gone differently. The Great Cycle, though, has been completed and now, we stand upon the apron of a new Age.
Stephen Jay Gould wrote a slim volume back at the turn of the century about Millennialism, calendars, the human urge to impose order upon the innately disordered. He wrote lovingly about what is basically our habit of taxonomic assertion. These things go here, those over there, and by all means we must keep this stuff apart.
What defies rational explanation is our apparent fascination with End Times.
Or does it?
There is something oddly relieving in the idea that Something will take us out of our situation, arrange the universe in such a way that we won’t have to deal with the irritating minutiae of actual existence, day in and out, year upon year. Taxes. Utility bills. Listening to the weather report. The latest world disaster.
The death of friends.
There is a thread of the Apocalypse long favored by science fiction writers, primarily, I think, for its wonderful trick of wiping the slate clean and allowing for a brand new start. Of course, we won’t be swept from the stage, only all the rest of a burgeoning, unwieldy humanity that seems to make it so difficult to straighten things out. We—the protagonists (of course)—would have the opportunity to start all over. Even something as nascent as H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds offers the chance to redraw the maps of tomorrow by thoroughly trashing today.
Some of our favorite stories are about exactly that. Even in the Bible. The proto disaster novel had early beginnings. The Flood is exactly that kind of wishful thinking. To a lesser extent, the tale of Sodom and Gomorrah. (Clearly, Lot and his lot thought of themselves as the new versions of Noah and his brood.) It looked like it was going to happen again, too, when Yeshua was crucified. Read those passages and all the components of a ripping End Times yarn are there! Earthquakes, bad weather, lightning, the oppressive sense of doom. (The story teller there played a trick on everyone, though, and the world didn’t end and the next day everyone woke up and realized they still had to manage. Damn.)
Alas, we aren’t to be let off the hook that easily.
I think this one, being so well-publicized and consequently such a big let-down, should be seen in a more positive way. We survived the Mayan Apocalypse (which was never in the cards anyway, never predicted—the only thing that ended was a cycle of the Mayan calendar, specifically what they called an Initial Series) and the day dawned and look, Christmas is still, as they used to say, right around the corner.
Another end that didn’t.
Maybe, though, we should look at it as an opportunity for the kind of new beginning we always talk about, hear about, dream about, but then never really do anything about. Look at it this way—the weather (at least here) was pretty severe, the elements were getting ready to dump abyssal payback upon us, and collectively we were spared. We have found ourselves survivors upon our spinning world, alive and in possession of the possibilities of a New Dawn. For whatever reason, another chance is ours.
People are always coming up with End Time scenarios, but what happens the next day is always a bit thin after all the sturm und drang of the actual apocalypse. But then, that’s for each one of us to write, hmm?
After all, one Great Cycle has now ended, the previous Initial Series is over, a new one is upon us. Maybe the next cycle really can be great. For a change, maybe it would be a good idea to do what we keep telling ourselves is the best part of the season. Stop hating, open up a little.
‘Tis the season. We’ve survived. So what are you going to do with your second chance?