A Front Row Seat to the End of All Things
I really don’t do resolutions. I did once, in 2008. In fact, I had three, on a timeline, and I met them all. You’d better believe that I was pleased with myself.
But that was a definite exception. For the most part, if I want to change something, I do it when it comes to mind (or, if we’re being honest, I put it off for a while…and then a while longer). Perhaps the problem is that I don’t really reflect all that much. Usually, I don’t have a cause to do it.
Well, let’s say that the world’s going to blow up. Is that cause enough? I think so.
Human beings have always had this obsession with the end of the world. I think it’s because it’s hard to fathom anything larger. The idea of this whole grand experiment going up in a big ball of flame is terrifying on a level that nothing else can match. But then again, it’s also exciting, in a way. The End of All Things is the second biggest event in the history of existence, topped only by the Start of All Things. We can never experience that one, though, while the end is something that’s constantly staring us in the face – or at least has been for the past few generations.
How do you picture the end of the world? Ending with a bang, I reckon – nuclear war, or a meteor, or some other catastrophic cosmic event. If you thoughts run a bit more fantastic, perhaps you’d prefer something involving an alien armada, haywire robot army or swarm of the undead. Or maybe you’d prefer something supernatural – the unstoppable wrath of God, maybe. But it seems like the truth may be a bit more dull than that. Most real-world doomsday scenarios involve things like ecological disaster, economic/technological collapse or a non-zombie pandemic. These things are horrifying while also being much less exciting than, say, the nuclear conflagration we all feared fifty years ago.
But, for a moment, let’s say that the end is coming, and it’s coming big. There’s a cosmic object headed towards Earth – a big, dense, extinction-level meteor. We know when it’s going to hit. We know where it’s going to hit. And we know that we have no real chance to stop it. Most people are going to use that as an excuse to go absolutely crazy. Some might head out to the Himalayas and try an ill-advised climb, because dying halfway up the side of one of the world’s premier mountains sure beats getting crushed by a space rock while playing video games. Some might use it as an excuse to tell everyone they know exactly what they feel – it’s not like there are going to be any awkward office meetings in the near future. Some might blow their life savings on the mother of all parties, going out in one last flash of debauchery. And, no doubt, a few souls will spend their final days hiding out in bunkers, nursing their secret fantasies about the abolition of the civilized world.
Well, let me add a suggestion to this little list. Find out where the meteor is landing. Call up all your friends, even the ones you haven’t seen in years. Get some lawn furniture, blankets, a cooler full of the toxins of your choice, a portable grill, and the best sound system that your vehicle can haul. Drive out to the impact site, set everything up, and watch as everything comes to a smashing conclusion around you.
Sound crazy? Hardly. The End of All Things is, after all, the biggest event that any of us can possibly witness. It’s the last great light show, the grandest of aerial displays, the most intense thrill ride that’s even fathomable. There is no human artifice that can possibly match the splendor of the great conclusion, so why try? Make the last thing you see the best thing that you’ve ever seen.
Of course, this is just fantasy, but maybe we can still learn from it. Life is not about ownership, or popularity, or personal comfort. It’s about experience, be that experience a great personal achievement, an act of benevolence, or just being privileged enough to witness something that few others have. So, for 2013, everyone should make it his or her goal to have one truly exceptional experience.
Somewhere out there, right now, something exceptional is happening. Go out, find it, witness it. If your world is boring, find a more exciting one. Go out into the world and wander – the best things are never found down the well-trod paths, are they? And if you find something exciting, really watch it. Not through a viewfinder – it isn’t Facebook that’s in need of excitement, it’s you.
Leave your mark on the world. Have you ever wanted to go out and make something? Try it. Whatever project you tackle, give it 100% of your effort. If the end product sucks? Do it again. And again, and again, until you have something that can give you a sense of pride. That’s what counts. You only fail when you get discouraged.
Whatever you do, make it a growth experience. A growth experience is always good, even when it hurts. Even if the skies fall to the ground, you’ll always have your experiences.
(Written for the WordPress Weekly Writing Challenge)