Jeremy J. Jones – Stranded in Thought

May 24, 2009

Apocalypse When?

Filed under: Miscellaneous,Opinion,Thoughts — Jeremy @ 12:10 am

Apocalypse is an interesting concept. Religious societies have predicted an apocalypse for thousands of years, and each has evidently been wrong thus far.

The current apocalypse coming to a head has been ostensibly predicted by several independent religions around the world: December 21, 2012. Apparently, this date is to be the climax of all the increased interpersonal tension and natural disaster increases we’ve seen in the past ten years or so. At best, it is supposed that this date will effect a huge change in how humans conduct themselves. At worst, cockroaches will be ruling the world, as they’re apparently the only thing that will survive a nuclear holocaust, as the old joke says.

From my knowledge of The Revelation from the Bible’s New Testament, one could easily make a religion-based case for that date as an apocalypse. Near the end time, we are supposed to see increased: storms, disease, famine, seismic activity, war, and so on. It’s hard to argue that we don’t live in such a time. It’s also said that this period of “end times” will follow a period of relative peacefulness, which the 1990s certainly were by comparison to this decade and the 1980s. So, it can be easy to believe that the world is coming to an end, or at least to a monumental shift.

But I think that predicting this event in such a way can actually serve to paralyze people by fear. My philosophy is to live my life every day, because I can never know in advance when I will reach the end of it, whether it be December 21, 2012, or January 15, 2061, or some other day (I should save that last date; that would be interesting). Otherwise, I will reach the end of my life saying “I wish I’d done this,” or “Man, I should have done that.”

When my relationship with my wife was new, I told her one Tuesday, “I think I’m going to take flying lessons.” She had known me about three months and had heard her share of men talking like that throughout her life. She was therefore thoroughly shocked and impressed when I had my first lesson that Saturday.

She told me, smiling, “Wow! When you say you’re going to do something, you do it!”

And I replied: “Well, yeah. Why say you’re going to do something if you’re not going to do it?”

I have always lived by that mantra. I certainly delay things for financial reasons, but the things I want never come off of my list. Ever. I will do them all, someday. It is in that way that I satisfy myself. That is my religion. Sure, I occasionally change my mind, but most things I decide never leave my focus.

I think of it as a very simple creed. “I do what I say I’m going to do.” Many of us would do well to follow that creed. First, it would make us more reliable to others, but second, and more importantly, it makes one feel more responsible and proud. There is nothing like accomplishing what you set out to do. It is very empowering.

Earnest Hemingway once wrote, “Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.”

That’s sound advice. But simplifying it can actually make it more restrictive. Always do what you said you’d do. That’s sometimes hard to measure up to. However, I know one surefire way to fail at anything, and that is to assume failure is inevitable. This all but guarantees it, as we stop trying once we’re sure we’ll fail. Into the mouth of Yoda, everyone’s favorite 900 year-old Jedi Master, George Lucas put the words, “Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.” Very powerful. I remember that when I am setting my mind to do something particularly challenging for me.

And that brings me back to the subject at hand. Maybe the world will end on December 21, 2012, maybe I will die between now and then, and maybe I’ll live to be 100 years old. But what I know is that it will remain important to “do,” until that moment comes. Otherwise, regardless of when my end arrives, I’ll have died perhaps decades earlier, from waiting for my death.

I’d not wish that fate on anyone.

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