Steve Carell and Keira Knightley work out what to do with their final days in the movie Seeking a Friend for the End of the World.
Remember those old dudes who used to regularly stroll around places like Hyde Park and Pitt Street Mall in rickety sandwich boards covered with creative scrawls like “Repent! The end is near!”? Those guys just haven’t been around much lately, which is either a good sign or a very bad one (I mean bad for the sandwich board industry; there’s not much other use for those things).
In case you haven’t risked downloading a computer virus from some intergalactic conspiracy theorists’ community blog lately, you may be blissfully unaware that THE END OF DAYS IS UPON US. To quickly summarise, it’s all based on the belief that on December 21, 2012, the 5,125-year Mayan Long Count calendar ends, suggesting some sort of cataclysmic event for those of us still left here on this big blue ball. It should be noted that some sceptics claim these predictions are just based on a poor interpretation of the Mayan calendar, kinda like if you annoyingly referred to New Year’s Eve as “the end of the world!” every year (although based on last year’s hangover, that description was pretty apt for a day or two).
It seems the main thing that’s getting people worried is the fact that the Mayans were a genuinely advanced civilization when it came to astronomy. Besides their complex calendar and the fact that they charted the orbits of planets using the naked eye, they also invented hot chocolate so are generally deserving of trust and good vibes. Concerns over the end of their calendar have also been bandwagon-ed by a bunch of other conveniently-timed cataclysmic scenarios (intergalactic alignment; geomagnetic reversal; ancient Sumerian predictions that we’re on a collision course with a planet called “Nibiru”; etc). Even if the Mayan prophecies amount to nothing, it seems Earth’s still set to go kablooey.
In a pre-emptive effort to quell any bubbling mass hysteria, NASA has produced an official page dealing with the subject titled, “Beyond 2012: Why The World Won’t End”. With an air of smug intellectualism fuelled by things like “facts” and “science”, they take a pick-axe to the conspiracy theories. Check out these fighting words: “Nibiru, a supposed planet discovered by the Sumerians…”; “The world has been getting along fine for 4 billion years…”; “Credible scientists know of no threats…”.
Even without NASA’s biting rebuttals, though, most folks are understandably sceptical. In just the past decade or so, we’ve already experienced a whole spate of Doomsday disappointments:
- 1997: The Hale-Bopp comet’s celestial appearance is greeted with gossip that it’s actually a cover for an alien spacecraft coming to invade Earth (eventually leading to the Heaven’s Gate cult tragedy, which inadvertently made white Nike Decades the least fashionable sneakers around).
- 1999: Way back in the 16th Century, Nostradamus himself, in some sort of poorly-translated French, claims: “The year 1999, seventh month, from the sky will come great king of terror” (I checked the records, it didn’t even rain that much in July ‘99).
- 2000: The Y2K bug sparks fears of a nuclear holocaust due to an error with computer clocks (surely the lamest apocalyptic threat to date). Soon after, author Richard Noone posits a new end-date in his book about melting polar ice-caps, “5/5/2000 Ice: The Ultimate Disaster” (used copies are currently available from Amazon for one cent).
- 2011: Most recently, we had perennial predictor, Harold Camping, who gambled on a whole bunch of dates in September and October ’94 (wrong, wrong), March ’95 (wrong), and May and October 2011 (evidently, wrong and wrong). I’d love to see this guy picking suitcases on Deal Or No Deal.
The good news, according to Wikipedia, is that after 2037, there are no other apocalyptic predictions for 200 years. Better yet, Nostradamus’ final prophecy is set for 3797. If we can make it past that, we’re good till about the year 5,000,000,000 (sorry, no exact date given), when most scientists agree that the sun will swell into a red giant and either swallow Earth or completely scorch it
Nevertheless, as my Catholic upbringing taught me, it’s always a good idea to hedge your bets on these kinda things. Until the sun comes up on the 22nd, you might as well live the day as if it was your last. If nothing else, at least it gives you an excuse to put off your Christmas shopping for a few more days. In an effort to help you make the most of that final reckoning, here’s a shortlist of suggestions on how you could spend your last day on Earth…
1: There hasn’t been an excuse to party like this since 1999. Invite some friends over and prepare a cleverly-themed playlist featuring REM’s “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)”, Britney Spears’ “Til The World Ends”, Morrissey’s “Every Day Is Like Sunday”, Pet Shop Boys’ “The End Of The World” and Waka Flocka Flame’s “Rooster In My Rari” (that one’s got nothing to do with the end of the world, it’s just an incredible song).
2: Stay in for a quiet movie night with Roland Emmerich’s prophetic blockbuster, 2012. This is kinda like watching Halloween on Halloween or The Santa Clause 2 at Christmas. I guess you could just look out your window instead of sitting through cheesy special effects, but hopefully the world will end mercifully quicker than the movie does.
3: Of course, the last day of the world should be spent alongside our closest loved ones… or alongside attractive acquaintances we haven’t gotten around to loving yet. Take a leaf out of the work of 17th century metaphysical perverts, uh, I mean poets, and use the impending apocalypse to successfully seduce an unrequited love. To quote Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress”: “Had we but world enough and time, this coyness, Lady, were no crime...”. Smooth!
4: A full day of God-fearing can leave you famished. According to a recent study conducted by Cornell University, the most popular last meal request amongst death row inmates is a large serving of French fries. Follow their lead and eat up; you won’t have to worry about burning calories when your entire body is burning from intergalactic firestorms. And on that note I must leave, for armageddon hungry.