I like to write about the hopeful side of the apocalypse, the possibility of survival, which is why I don’t particularly care for un-survivable scenarios, like a massive meteor that would wipe us all out in seconds, massive explosions, etc. But the fact is, if there were to be an apocalypse, it would be pretty hard to see any hope whatsoever, especially in the immediate aftermath.
I guess it’s easier to think of the process of rebuilding because right after the apocalyptic event, it’s almost unimaginable. Everyone’s worst fears are realized. Your life as you knew it is
not only gone, but shattered, swept up, washed away, not even a dust particle remaining. In the case of global apocalypse, not just your life either: everyone’s. Everyone that survived, that is, because the fact is that it’s very likely a lot of people died. A lot.
In a movie, this is where you see a massive tidal wave wash cities and houses away. Or parts of continents sink into the ground, or are maybe covered in waves of lava. The thing that they don’t show you – that they can’t, because otherwise everyone would be too depressed to watch the movie – is that there were people in those houses, in those cities, on those continents. Psychologically, we’re supposed to recognize it, supposed to know, “wow, the heroes of this movie are lucky to be alive,” but we don’t actually think about it.
But if you think about it now, depending where / how / what strikes, people are going to die, and you probably knew some of them. Perhaps you lost someone very close to you. So not only are the ways we live our lives lost, but also pieces of our heart, people who populated those lives.
What do you do? What can you do? Here it would probably be separated into personalities and character, where some people are able to just act, to do what’s necessary: find food, shelter, assure safety, help others, etc. But there are also going to be some too petrified to do anything, petrified by what just happened, what they’ve survived as they come to grips with survival, and what that will probably mean. Even if they survived the apocalypse itself, there are some who probably won’t survive long, out of circumstance, inability to act, perhaps even choice.
Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and S. M. Stirling’s Dies the Fire both deal with immediate aftermath situations. Just the idea, to me, is both terrifying and depressing. But I guess too we must find hope in the idea that both of them featured characters – or potentially people we know – who were able to act, who were able to decide what needed to be done, and to save and protect those nearest and dearest to them. I suppose we’re all left hoping either we know someone like that, or we are / will become someone like that.
Okay, all pretty dark and depressing, I know, and I’m sorry (like I said, why I deal with the period of rebuilding, not the aftermath). But here’s the thing: if you survived, if anyone whatsoever survived, there has to be hope. Hope is essential to the human condition, it’s what gets us up, keeps us moving, even on the days we claim to be hopeless. And life is all about survival, whether we’re navigating office politics and rush-hour on the way home, or fortifying our house against invaders and storing food supplies to get us through the winter. It’s a different kind of survival, but it’s still necessary. And it can still let us keep hoping for tomorrow, keep fighting. And that’s how we can eventually get over the aftermath, whether of global apocalypse, or just the end of periods in the lives we have today.
Because whatever we lose, no matter how bad things get, we always have to hang on to hope, even by a miniscule thread. With hope, tomorrow will always be brighter, the world will improve, and we can survive.
Thanks for reading. Have a great week. Stay hopeful. J