Don't ask me to cite the source, but I recall Terence McKenna once suggesting that the Mayan calendar calculations might possibly have been off by two thousand years, in which case it is the year 4012 for which we need to be gearing up, not 2012. That gives us a little breathing room to finish wrapping up our affairs and stockpiling Basmati rice, peanut-butter cookies and Power Bars, and if you have a generator, the complete set of Seinfeld DVDs to help pass the time on those long, apocalyptic nights. And lately survivalists are also recommending stashing huge quantities of Benadryl in order to deal with all the new allergic reactions that the end of the world is likely to precipitate. Clearly the last thing you want to be dealing with when reality as we know it comes crashing down is a runny nose.
Meanwhile, there are many people who remain unaware that we may be getting this 2000-year grace period and thus may have quite a shock in store on Dec 22, 2012, the day after it is all supposed to come tumbling down. There's nothing worse than business as usual when you're expecting the end of the world. Can you imagine the sinking feeling some people will experience on that morning when it slowly begins to dawn on them that rather than toppling headlong into a worldwide collective existential abyss, they instead have to show up for work? It will be reminiscent of those early childhood days of waking to a beautiful, silent, freshly fallen snow, the heart leaping in a Christmas-morning-like rush of freedom and possibility, only to learn that the three-inch sprinkling of powder was insufficient to shut down the local schools.
And just when you thought you'd be off the hook from all your financial obligations for the fourth fiscal quarter of 2012, instead you end up incurring a bunch of late fees because you had been hoping to slip into the End Times with a few unpaid bills. Rather than hearing the voices of angels guiding our souls to the next station on our way to oblivion, instead the phone is ringing off the hook with creditors who won't take no-or Armageddon-for an answer.
I have a friend who is stuck with about two-dozen 50-pound bags of rice in his basement from the Y2K scare, although when new visitors ask him about it, he has conveniently invoked the impending Avian Flu pandemic as the reason for his hoarding habit, and now as the global bird cataclysm fades from the headlines, 2012 is the logical next scapegoat. Fortunately, the average person doesn't quite grasp that a 50-pound bag of rice will be about as useful in December of 2012 as the rolls of quarters were in the pockets of the Heaven's Gate suicide people. About the only truly useful thing to take with you to the Great Transition might be about 600 mics of pure LSD, to help you leap out of the body just before the world leaps out of you.
Meanwhile, if nothing does happen, Christmas morning 2012 should be a barrel of laughs. "Merry Christmas sweetie! I was going to get you that new hydrogen-powered Barbie Transporter you've been bugging me about, but I was pretty certain we'd all be dead by now. Sorry, my bad. Here, have a spoonful of rice." Then finally, the ultimate insult, New Year's Day, 2013, we're all still here, and not only here, but as miserable and whiny as ever. Or even more so, considering that we had fully expected to be on a permanent vacation from existence by then. Instead, we're faced with Macbeth's tormenting reminder:
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time.
Image by AlaskaTeacher, courtesy of Creative Commons license.