People all over the world anticipate Dec. 21 each year — after all, it’s generally the day when the Solstice occurs, that shortest day of the year signaling the return of the light breaking through the darkness of winter. This year, of course, all bets are off. Sparked by an interpretation of an ancient Mayan calendar and encouraged by pop culture weirdness, people are wondering if this Dec. 21 — today — will actually be the end of the world.
If you are reading this, it’s likely that the world does keep spinning, ensuring that those of us in the United States, for example, will be alive to watch the premier of Downton Abbey come Jan. 6. We can’t imagine the world ending before Americans find out whether Lady Mary and Matthew Crawley actually do find themselves married in season three; it’s downright unfair that the British know whether true love made it to the altar, while the country that successfully overthrew the crown had to wait months. Should the Mayan prophecy actually be about the end of the world, rather than simply a transition from one cycle of time to another, those of us who lacked access to the British broadcast of season three of the hit series will be left hanging.
Meanwhile, we make it through the day as we wonder (just a little bit) what the Mayans really meant. The helpful scientists at NASA are comforting on the topic, stating bluntly, that, “Dec. 21, 2012, won’t be the end of the world as we know it.” Not content to ease our fears about the Mayan doomsday prophecy, NASA scientists also lay to rest other current predictions. Or, in our case, give us something else to worry about — we were unaware of concerns over the planet Nibiru approaching the Earth. Evidently, according to NASA, some are predicting that Nibiru (AKA Planet X or Eris) is headed directly toward us. However, NASA says, “Nibiru and other stories about wayward planets are an Internet hoax. There is no factual basis for these claims. If Nibiru or Planet X were real and headed for an encounter with the Earth in 2012, astronomers would have been tracking it for at least the past decade, and it would be visible to the naked eye.”
The planet collision isn’t happening, and neither is the polar shift, a meteor strike or giant solar storms. In other words, the Earth — for now, anyway, until climate change takes over — is just fine. Saturday morning, disaster averted, people will have to get up, finish Christmas shopping and finally get done wrapping presents. No more procrastination. Thank you, NASA. We appreciate your calm voice amid silliness.
As for those ancient Mayans, perhaps their calendar holds this wisdom for our modern age. This world is not ending, but one way of being and doing will be passing away. Under this thinking, the blood and carnage of the past decades, with wars of genocide and nuclear destruction, are relegated to the ash bins. After the events of this past year, the entire world certainly needs a fresh beginning. Here’s hoping it starts tomorrow, as the days grow longer and the darkness of winter begins to fade.