We aren’t all gonna die tomorrow.
Yes, I’m sure.
Now that I’ve calmed you down, I want to borrow your ear for a second. Because you’ve been given an extraordinary opportunity George Bailey, and I want to make sure you understand it.
The first time I was convinced the world was about to end was a Sunday in 1984. I was eight, on the living room floor, and thumbing through my older brothers’ record collection. Because, seemingly since birth, I’ve been fascinated by darker things in the world, I stopped on the album “Holy Diver” by the band Dio. To give you an idea of what caught the attention of my eight year old brain, here is the cover as I saw it that morning.
Spooky, right? A demon whipping a priest with a length of chain, the priest probably panicking about drowning in the rough water.
I’m not going to pretend to be a child psychologist and tell you that most kids would have slid the record back between the Journey and Christopher Cross albums, but I will tell you that recently I found a collection of short stories and poetry produced by my elementary school in 1984, and my contribution—as a second grader—was about me running through a cemetery, falling into an open grave, and suffocating while dirt rained down on me, so I think I have some license to say that I was earnestly skewing towards whatever I became.
I remember being a little scared when I put the record on the turntable. For one, I wasn’t supposed to touch my brother’s records. For two, there was a DEMON ON THE COVER WHIPPING A PRIEST WITH A CHAIN.
Anyway, I dropped the needle, and in those opening seconds of keyboards and water noises, I was absolutely convinced that I’d opened a portal to Hell and that we were all going to die that Sunday morning. And when I say “we,” I mean you, too. This wasn’t a small-time operation.
In the end, we didn’t die, my parents woke up and we had breakfast, and now 28 years have passed and I’m an old man and other people are worried about all of us dying tomorrow.
But we aren’t.
I’ve been paying attention to the whole December 21st, 2012 thing for the better part of this century. (Yes, I’m being a hipster about the end of the world). Eight years ago I was dating a girl with a late December birthday. My business partner at the time also has a late December birthday. We all joked around that we’d have to throw a really big party on December 21st, 2012 because it was going to be the last. For everybody. For all time.
At that point, I’d been told, “Hey, the Mayan calendar runs out and we’re all going to die.”
Later I’d hear a more nuanced version that says something more like, “It’s the end of an era and December 21st, 2012 will usher in a new period of humanity.”
In the intervening years I’ve also heard a million expert analyses, “expert” analyses, really high people at parties, skeptics, street corner prophets, scientists, hucksters, new ageists, and others giving their takes. Sometimes it’s a debunking. Sometimes it’s dubious embellishments.
At this point, none of that shit—none of it—means anything to me.
It doesn’t matter, George Bailey.
All I know is that we’re living in a crippled version of Pottersville right now. Not to sound like some moralizing asshole on a soapbox, but we aren’t doing the best we could be doing. There’s a lot of noise in the world. Tension is high. Without recapping the recent spate of horrifying violence, I’d just like to say—we are adrift.
Will tomorrow bring a shift to a new period?
It doesn’t need to be because an ancient civilization foretold it. It doesn’t have to be the work of larger fates. It can be a matter of choice.
We have the power to silence the static. To choose love over fear. To live up to our potential as creators and builders, as poets and artists, as compassionate lives interconnected by our simultaneous existence on this planet.
It’s easy to get caught up in the negativity. Nobody can blame you for being bummed by the state of affairs in Pottersville. But there’s a goddamned miracle afoot if you’re reading this. You’re alive. And even if you wrestle against the truth of it – that’s a pretty extraordinary gift and opportunity.
Let’s make the most of it.
And every day after it.