R.E.M. – It’s The End Of The World

So as we get closer to the date when a surprising number of people think the world will end. If the new year wasn’t enough, now a lot of folks think the Mayan calendar ending has something to do with how the end of days. 

It’s true, the Mayans had a highly advanced knowledge of science in comparison to many other indigenous peoples, and even wowed modern Europeans when they discovered how well the Mayans had grasped mathematics without European influence (I think that was after they wiped them out in search of gold).

I’ve seen a lot of back and forth regarding this so called Mayan prophesy. Some people think that since our calendars have leap-years, and the Mayans didn’t, that means the end of the Mayan calendar was actually in the past. This is only half true, the Mayan calendar didn’t have leap-years, but the coinciding of December 21st with the end of the Mayan calendar has to do with the winter solstice, not  specific days on a calendar.

More than the actual end of days, I am interested in the WHY. Why do people so openly and feverishly predict the end of the world? Those who aren’t the pastors of mega-churches looking for an influx of donations while people shuck off their earthly possessions are still obsessed with the end. For one reason or another, these people must secretly want the world to end and this is the part that fascinates me.

I have a feeling that many of these people who are secretly hoping for the end of the world don’t have it very good here in what I will refer to as the “real world”. For whatever reason, and I am sure these reasons are as unique as the people who subscribe to them, people see the end of the world as a break from the monotony of life.

I remember being in school and anticipating holidays like crazy. Every day off was like sweet ambrosia being crammed in to my fat little face. Christmas and Summer holidays were always looked forward to  the most. As a child, your sense of time is distorted, but as the end of the semester gets closer and closer, it became easier and easier to think ‘just a few more weeks’ and then ‘just a few more days’ and then ‘just a few more hours’ and FREEDOM from this terrible place.

Sadly, for many people (including myself during less enthusiastic stretches of my life) the modern world is a school year with no summer break. As the days get longer, and the hemlines get shorter, workers of all collars remain steadfast in their assigned positions and wish they could kick off their shoes for 2 months and leave the real world behind.

Between the sullen masses lost in the workaday world, and the enthusiastic dreamers who look around and wonder “Is this really all there is?” there is a common bond that actually wants a cataclysmic event to take place on December 21st.

Like those who panicked in 1999, I believe this new end of the world theory is the only thing some people have to look forward to. They see their lives as unending strings of modest successes and failures, living lives that aren’t particularly good or bad. This is something to talk about that isn’t their spoiled children or reality television programme. This is something exciting they can be a part of, and at the end they can say;

“Well, I guess we had a good run. All of my trials and tribulations have lead to this. See ya’ll in heaven”

Personally, I can’t subscribe to such end-of-the-world speculation. Rational thought aside, I just refuse to believe that this is the end. For once in my life I’m actually at a place where my Mazlow’s pyramid is shaping up rather nicely and I didn’t have to enslave anyone to do so.

Had I spent the bulk of adult life in a dead-end job, only doing enough to keep my ungrateful family fed and clothed, I can see a 40 year old version of myself begging for an end. If not as an immediate release from the pains of the modern world, at least as something that will shake up the otherwise bland monotony.

Meeting an untimely demise while eeking out an existence in a post-apocalyptic world sounds a trillion times better than having a heart-attack during your daily commute and slipping out of the world as fellow workaday zombies curse the inconvenience you’ve caused them by your expiration.


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