”’Kathy, I’m lost,’ I said, though I knew she was sleeping,
I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why…”
Lyrics written before I was born, and yet as I sing them out loud today, I feel their depth and their truth. They penetrate my heart, and silence my mind.
But only for a moment.
And then the mind awakens.
How many of us are empty and aching and don’t know why?
How many of us do know why, but are afraid to admit it? Afraid to do anything about it?
How many of us are, like Kathy, sleeping?
And at the same time restless?
Casually cognizant of our discontent but resigned to its permanence in this one precious life we have to live?
Why don’t we do something?
We are 9 days away from an internationally-renowned pop culture event – the end of the long count of the Mayan calendar. Otherwise known as the Mayan Apocalypse, aka 2012, aka End of Days.
Whoever was in charge of brand strategy for the Mayan civilization should get a big fat bonus.
News stories from Russia indicate people are stocking up on disaster supplies; reports also abound of tourist influx to pseudo-scientific hotspots like Mount Rtanj in Serbia or Pic de Bugarach in the Pyrenees.
Some of us are scared and admit it.
Some of us are scared, and won’t admit it.
Some are smug.
Some of us clueless.
Most of us fall in between.
No matter where we fall, our lives are certainly about to feel like a scene from a Michael Bay movie.
And no matter where we fall, for a moment, for certain, we will awaken.
What is going to happen next? we wonder.
Will the sky fall?
Will the stock market crash?
Will Target run out of transistor radios and matches?
And who gets to score the soundtrack?
Here’s my question:
Is it possible that we crave disasters?
That there’s something soothing about an imagined apocalypse?
An end to the agonizing restlessness of our real lives? A beginning of a craved banding together of humanity?
Is this the spark that created Doomsday Preppers? World War Z? The Walking Dead?
This interest in disaster is not just the stuff of the fringe. It’s not just the stuff of zealous religious folk who think the End of Days heralds the coming of Jesus. It’s not just the stuff of conspiracy theorists who are certain the Mayans knew what they were talking about and the government does too, but is hiding the secret from the good people.
It’s the stuff of all of us.
Secretly, perhaps, we all wish for something that will shake us from our slumber.
Secretly, or not so secretly, we wish for something that will force us to make a decision. To take action. To live a life of deeper meaning.
A life where our actions feed our hearts, not our heads.
And, perhaps, we think the answer lies only in global catastrophe.
How else but a global catastrophe could we justify leaving our jobs? Selling our house? Breaking our lease? Ending our broken relationships? Dropping out of school? Trekking across Africa alone for seven years?
If the zombies were to take over, on the other hand, we’d finally have an excuse to quit our job. To change majors. To tell people what we really think of them.
On the other side of catastrophe is a new beginning.
“Toss me a cigarette, I think there’s one in my raincoat
We smoked the last one an hour ago
So I looked at the scenery, she read her magazine
And the moon rose over an open field.”
Jen Maidenberg is a writer, editor, activist and former assistant editor at the Arizona Jewish Post. She first posted this blog on 12.12.12. Visit her website at http://jenmaidenberg.com/.