Sunday, December 23, 2012

Cue R.E.M. No, wait...

Well, uneventfully, 12/21/12 has come and gone.  Is anyone surprised?


R.E.M. wrote "It's The End of the World" back in 1987 and it's enjoyed quite a bit of air play over the years.  Apart from the first few lines and the chorus, I have no idea what they're saying – well, the first few lines, the chorus and that part in the middle when they belt out Leonard Bernstein.  Does anyone know anything other than those parts?  Does it matter?  I don't think so.  We all know what the song is about:  The end of the world.  Whether it's the real end, or just the end as we know it – which would be the end of our own little worlds – it's still the end.  For some curious reason, this is a topic that interests a lot of people to no end.


Since the beginning, there's been no shortage of prophesiers, seers and soothsayers prognosticating the world's demise.  Me, I don't understand the obsession.  They (unidentified all-knowing group of the wise) say that most people don't like to think about death – especially their own.  It's why so many are caught ill-prepared when death comes unexpectedly.  There are no plans made for what to do with the bodies: donate, cremate, inter; no arrangements made for those left behind; no instructions on assets.  It's crazy.  People live like they're not going to die.  Newsflash: You are.  Denial is the oft-cited reason for the general aversion to death. 


I don't mind talking about when I'm no longer going to be around.  I don't know why, really, it just doesn't bother me.  One day while taking a walk with my niece and nephew, this otherwise morbid topic arose and Griffin asked me how I wanted to die.  Odd, right?  He's 10.  I have to admit, for a moment I wondered if I crossed him somehow, so I asked, "Why? What are you planning?"  He didn't understand my question – of course he wasn't planning anything.  "Well," I said, "I guess I'd like to go peacefully in my sleep."  Taking in my response, he looked up at me and said, "Why like that?"  I looked to Olivia and asked, "What's with this kid?"  After her shoulder shrug I turned my attention back to G.  I had a follow up question of my own.  "How would you like me to go?  Car crash?  Debilitating disease? What?"  He looked mortified.  "I don't want you to go," he said, "I was just wondering how you wanted to go." Again, he's 10.  In an effort to explain the appeal of dying in one's sleep, I decided to wrap up the conversation with a quote from Woody Allen: "It's not that I'm afraid to die.  I just don't want to be there when it happens."  Ahh, the Woodman.


I think most people feel this way, which is why I don't understand the fascination with the end of the world.  Do you know that the End Times is a multi-billion dollar industry?  The mere thought of the end of our world saddens me.  My own death I'm okay with, but the destruction of the world?  I think of the simplest things – a flower blooming (usually a crocus), a little bird sitting on a tiny branch – and I just can't imagine them coming to an end.  I do not want the earth to dissolve like snow. 


What's most surprising is that although many focus on the end of the world, they don't live their lives as if time was short – and that's real, that's a fact.  Each of us has a limited time here and at some point, our time will come to an end.  We don't need Nostradamus, Harold Camping or even the Mayan calendar to tell us that. 


What would you do differently if you really knew when your time was going to be up?  And more importantly, why aren't you doing it now? 


Christmas is in just two days.  Jesus was born to be the hope of the world – remember, he doesn't even know when the end will be – and it's because of him, I feel fine! 


Merry Christmas,


~ M.