Wednesday July 30, 2014





Koopmans: Thinking about the end of the world?

So the world is soon coming to an end. According to some, that certainty is predicted by the Maya calendar, a stone tablet created by astronomers in the jungles of Guatemala 1,300 years ago.

That calendar runs out Dec. 21, 2012, and as a result, many of the world’s hyper-excitable have proclaimed the day as the expiration date for the planet.

There is no agreement — I’ve not even heard a suggestion, really — about how the end will come. Will the seas rise up? How about the Earth spewing fire? All I hope is that if it happens, it will be spectacular.

I’m not suggesting it will happen. I’m certain that on Dec. 22, the sun will rise and I will spark up the coffee machine. But way back in the deep recesses of my brain is a niggling dumb
question.

What if the Mayans are right? What if the Great Comet strikes and makes cockroaches the kings of the planet?  

Am I wasting my last couple of weeks of existence?

The ability to contemplate our own end is one of our species-defining characteristics. I’m not sure if we are the only species with such an ability but if there are others (elephants or dolphins strike me as having the ability for such self-awareness) we are in small company.

I’ve heard it said that death makes life worth living. Without knowing our time on Earth is finite, we’d do nothing but sit around, chatting on Facebook and growing digital vegetables in Farmville.

The tricky part of the human equation, however, is in not knowing when the end will come.

Will I die in 40 years or today, when a log rolls off the side of a truck on Highway 1? Finding the right balance
between the extremes, it seems to me, is the key to a happy life.

I know people who, when they were in their 20s, lived like they would never make 30. In  fact, some claimed as much, saying they didn’t expect to see the decades of their lives change.

Guess what? They did survive and while they had a lot of fun, lack of forethought and planning has set them up for some tough living.

They have no savings and few skills. They lived the moment to the fullest, but the moment passed them by.

Others of course, do the opposite and fail to live at all as they act responsibly and plan for the “future.”

And then they die early, usually right after they retire from a lifetime of hard work, with full bank accounts and little to remember.

I hope to see my last pennies slip from my grasp at the same time breath and spirit leave my aged and well-used body, my mind filled with memories or people and times well spent. If only I knew how to make that happen.

Back to Dec. 21. If we knew the Mayans were right, I’m sure these next weeks would be wild and frenetic.

Last-days behaviour would prove foolish on Dec. 22, however, when the sun rises and you are naked on a mountain top, having burned all your possessions in a rush of last-minute spiritual enlightenment.

So what is one to do? I’m going with the long view, with one teeny exception. There is a fly rod I’ve long drooled over. I think I will call it Mayan Beauty.

rkoopmans@kamloopsnews.ca


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