Well December 2012 is just around the corner and folks around the world are holding their breath waiting to see if the Mayan Calendar really predicted the end of the world, or if the Mayans just got sick of counting. For those of us of a certain age, we can tell you, we’ve seen lots of predictions for the end of the world come and go and after a while the thrill just wears off. Okay, I will admit I am a little nervous about New Year’s Eve without Dick Clark, but other than that I’m not really worried.
You have to wonder how worried everyone else really is when you think about it. I mean if people really and truly believed the world was ending would they be standing in line at Walmart trying to buy cheap TVs for Christmas? Would they still bother going to work every day in jobs they hate or would they decide their remaining days could be better spent elsewhere? Would they continue to fight wars or would they just put down their weapons and walk away? If people really believed the end of the world was upon us would the churches be more full than they’ve ever been, or maybe the bar rooms? All in all, I don’t think folks are really buying it.
Having lived through many such predictions and other assorted tragedies in my nearly fifty years on the planet, I have chosen long ago to live every day like it is my last regardless of what the calendar says. I have chosen to make the most of all my minutes on this planet because we all know that our last day will come eventually won’t it. I have chosen to intentionally leave every day a little better than I found it. None of us can predict when the end of our own world will come but we know without a doubt that it will. It could be decades away, or it could be days away.
Then there are the unexpected things that change our world as we know it, that don’t actually kill us outright although sometimes we wish they had. We try to forget that our entire lives can change in a moment’s notice. I have friends, far too many of them, who raised children they expected to follow them into old age, only to lose them, suddenly, tragically, unexpectedly. That these parents are able to continue on afterwards is an act of bravery and faith beyond comprehension. They can testify that surviving the end of the world is possible. There are those of us who have survived unexpected gut wrenching heart-break, who have had marriages end, or entire lives changed with one sentence uttered by someone we trusted. There are also those among us who have survived illnesses, trauma, accidents and war, all life altering experiences that ended one world and ushered them into another, unplanned for version of their own life.
Many of us talk about being afraid to die. I think maybe what we are really afraid of is actually living! If we were truly afraid that we would die any minute, many of us would be living our lives very differently than we are right now.
If we honestly thought that 2012 was the end of our world we wouldn’t be holding our breath, we’d be breathing more deeply. We would watch every sunrise and cherish every sunset. We would be holding the people we love closer. We would stop looking for God in buildings and instead see God in the mountains, the oceans, and the faces of newborn babies. We would be taking the time to walk on the beach more often, to call that friend we haven’t talked to in a long time, or to tell that person we hurt how very sorry we are. We would argue less and make love more. We would share more meals with loved ones. We would leave dishes unwashed in the sink in order to read more books to the children in our lives.We would hang onto the moments of joy in our past and just let go of the rest. We would stop putting off the things that make us happy because we are too busy. We would stop worrying about the intentions of others and instead take inventory of our own hearts. We really would put down our own weapons. We would stop wasting time being hurt or angry or sad and we would cling to every moment of joy we can find, at least that’s my plan.
And we would not be standing in line at Walmart.