Still here


by Frances Edstrom

Well, the world didn’t end. Did it? I’m actually glad, since this is the first time in my life that I have had my Christmas shopping done this early.

In our family we have the Fable of the Box of Chocolate Covered Cherries, which has, until this year, cautioned me against early Christmas shopping. One year my sister bought my mother a box of her favorite chocolates and hid them under her own bed. By Christmas morning, there was only one chocolate left, which she wrapped in a scrap of paper and presented to Mum. Everyone knew that she couldn’t buy just one chocolate covered cherry, so my sister was exposed as a closet candy eater.

Life would have felt so futile if I didn’t get to reap some reward for early shopping. Somehow, getting your shopping done early doesn’t seem the sort of thing for which a Supreme Being would grant perpetual life in Paradise. But here on earth, it’s a thing to be held in awe.

I came a little late to the end times discussion. The end of the world isn’t something that I pick up on my radar. I’m much more into things like trying to remember where I’m supposed to be at what time, while the earth is still spinning. Last week, when people began to talk about the world ending on December 21, 2012, I heard some interesting theories.

First, I gather that what started all this was the Maya calendar. This is not like the calendar they hand out at the drug store. The Mayans apparently had a paper shortage, so had to use rocks to carve their calendar. They should have known that Paper always beats Rock. If they hadn’t always resorted to rock, they might still be around. Apparently, the hubbub this year has to do with the fact that the Maya calendar ends on December 21, 2012.

I hate to tell these folks, but my calendar from the Winona County Historical Society ends on December 31, 2012. So, either the Maya calendar could start over, as we do, and the world goes on, or in Winona, we have ten extra days to reach out to our loved ones, or, perhaps, get even with our enemies.

I wondered about end-of-the-world believers, and did some Internet searching. I found one site that put my mind at ease. On a map of the U.S. was drawn a big red blob, the area that would apparently bear the brunt of the catastrophe, whatever it would be. We’re safe in the Winona area. Too bad about Southern California. Everything west and south of Albert Lea was a bad place to be, except for Washington, Oregon, the Idaho panhandle and the western half of Montana. The groovy East and Southeast would get off scot-free, except they’d have to live with a bunch of immigrants from the Rocky Mountain and Plains states, who say “warsh” instead of “wash,” and would drive both the hipsters and the hillbillies crazy. Wonder what political party would rise out of that eventuality.

Then there is the “solar flare” theory. Apparently, the sun is poised to shoot out intense high energy radiation flares, one of which could reach the earth and knock out all our modern power grids. We’d have a world without electricity, cell phones, GPS, air traffic controls—all that stuff. What’s so bad about that? It would be like an extended stay in the Boundary Waters. Give people an opportunity to get back to the earth, be in touch with nature.

Even the Vatican felt compelled to weigh in on the December 21st deadline. It won’t end for billions of years, they said. No definite date put forward. Rev. Jose Funes, who is director of the Vatican Observatory, added that “death can never have the last word.” So don’t worry.

What is so attractive to people about end-of-the-world theories? The end of a person’s world could come at any instant; isn’t that frightening enough? Why spend all that emotional energy planning for impending doom? Use it instead to plan for a brighter future, which, yes, may not come, but more than likely will.


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