Tomorrow never knows
As I’m sitting writing this on December 21, looking out over the gray skies above the Judean Hills, it does look quite ominous. But, it doesn’t appear that the end of the 5,000-year-long Mayan calendar which a global frenzy has surmised signals the final Armageddon is going to result in the end of the world. Some strong winds, whipping rain and cold temperatures perhaps, but that’s pretty normal for late December.
Of course, I could be proven wrong, in which case it’s been a pleasure writing for Israelity. However, I have hunch we’ll still be here tomorrow.
According to Mayan culture expert Dr. Barak Afik, a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem who specializes in the ancient history of Latin America, the Mayan equivalent of a millennium is a “great cycle,” which lasts 5,200 years. He told The Jerusalem Post’s Melanie Lidman that the current great cycle, which they believed was the fifth such cycle since the beginning of the world, ends on December 21, 2012.
In contrast to the Western concept of time, Mayans believed that time was cyclical. Afik described the Mayans’ view of time as a spiral: We have now finished one circle and are climbing upward to the next. For them, the end of the calendar was a time of deep introspection.
The HU professor explained that if Mayans were alive today, they would ask themselves – as a community – what did we learn during the last cycle? What wars did we fight and how can we learn to make peace with our neighbors? What technology did we invent and how can we use it to improve our individual and communal lives? What is the state of our environment? How are we impacting the natural world? What did we do well, and what did we do poorly? Mayans also firmly believed that an unbalanced natural world, suffering from uncharacteristically strong storms, or what today’s world would call pollution, could only be balanced once internal problems within the community were solved, he said.
It sounds like instead of focusing on end of the world parties and constant replaying of REM’s “It’s the End of The World” and Elvis Costello’s “Waiting for the End of the World,” we should be taking some of Afik’s comments to heart. Because if any civilization needs some introspection and corrections, it’s our Western one.
And why do I have a hunch the world will still be here tomorrow? I take my clue from the late, great Warren Zevon, who once sang about earthquakes in California and how he wasn’t afraid because as long as he owed money to the bar of the hotel he was in, it would remain standing.
I still have 12 years mortgage payments left, so I’m equally confident that the world will remain whole until I pay my bill.