Personal Apocalypses (ptI)

My local library must wonder about me sometimes, as I’ve been requesting a lot of material lately related to the apocalypse, the end of times, etc. I know when I looked at it before I got some very strange looks – and may have been close to receiving a pamphlet with links to help lines. But actually, I find the reading interesting and strangely uplifting. For research for my writing and for future blog posts, I’ve been examining different apocalyptic visions. The ideas I’m thinking about today have to do with the fact that many cyclical visions (whereby the world ends, only to be rebuilt) pair pessimism and optimism in equal measure. Therefore, the glass can be both half empty AND half-full, which probably works for me since I’m a Gemini.

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Picture from http://acobox.com, by artistkk license

Anyway, the other idea I keep thinking about is two-fold. First, that these end-time visions seem a comfort to those who feel our times are the worst they’ve ever been, that things are all falling apart, that immorality, disease, every bad thing you could ever think of is all happening now, and we’re all suffering. The hope comes out of the fact that after great suffering will be great reward and peace, personally or publicly. Which is probably what keeps me thinking back to a blog post I found by accident when doing a search a few weeks past.

Here’s a link to the post: Happy Apocalypse

The author tells us she had a dream that the world was going to end on January 25, 2011 – and she’s writing the post January 10, 2011. I kept thinking about the post and her – and was relieved to see there were posts after the 11th. 🙂 She explains how this affected her thinking. If you imagined the end of the world was coming so quickly, what would you do? What would become more important? How would it affect your everyday life or your long-term goals?

As I’ve been reading and researching I’ve found that either people – like the author of the blog post- choose to remember what’s really important in their life and take hold of it, or – like a guy in 1500s Germany – try to bring about the apocalypse by creating all the terrible portents of the supposed imminent apocalypse (things didn’t turn out so good for him after all the theft, murder, etc – he was executed and his body hung in a cage from a church tower, just in case you’re thinking of going his route).

What I’m getting at, though, is how would you react? What things become important? Or, is there nothing to worry about? Of course it’s sometimes helpful to think of better days when we’re in a slump or everything seems to be terrible. Lotteries count on this, since if many people didn’t somehow believe their lives would be instantly improved with a huge win, the lotteries would have been gone ages ago. And yet, how many times, when debts are high and funds are low, have you gone out – or at least considered – buying a lotto ticket?

End-time visions are kind of the same way, aren’t they? Well, if things are so bad now, they may get worse still, but then, after all that suffering, everything will be better, it will all be worth it. Either the world will really be over (in which case, problems are destroyed anyway, or you’re beyond caring about them) or, since you’ve worked and toiled and deserve happiness, it will finally be awarded to you.

So, if the world is going to end tomorrow, are we hopeful about it? Does it mean we don’t have to worry about the problems of today? Or does it mean instead of focusing on the problems we should instead focus on what really matters to us, things like our families, our passions, the things that bring us greatest joy and are of the greatest import in our lives? Does a consideration of apocalypse imply and demand a re-examination of who and what we are, our actions, our wishes, hopes and dreams? I think so. And maybe therein lies the apocalypse itself. By re-examining, by altering our perception, actions, and priorities, we are changed, we are not the same: perhaps we’re even reborn.

So, what do you think? And next week, something lighter, promise. After heavy thought, lightness is a welcome and necessary respite. Please, feel free to leave your comments – I look forward to your thoughts.

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