So, I don’t think the apocalypse happened. (Unless, like, it’s a pandemic that is now slowly spreading or Godzilla hatched from his nuclear egg and will emerge from the Pacific in a few weeks to munch on the Ellsworth Bridge! But I’ve lost faith in such things.) No, Dec. 21, 2012, proved to be merely the Friday before Christmas, not the beginning of the end of the world as we know it.
The ghosts of disproved doomsday prophecies past are haunting me. Like so many evangelical lunatics, crazy cult leaders and worried psychics past, I have been disproven and disgraced. (If I’m in such a dolorous mood, I can’t imagine what the ancient Mayan calendar makers are feeling right now.) Back in 1999, in the months leading up to Y2K, my dad installed a wood stove in the living room of our house and stacked firewood out back. My mom watched for sales and stacked some extra canned food and bottled water in the basement pantry.
The computers didn’t crash, of course. The dawn of 2001 did not doom all of modern technology to scrambling and short circuiting.
But as foolish as it seems now, it could have, right? A few computer geeks said it could, and I believe everything computer geeks tell me. And if there had been a glitch, my family would have had food for a while and been warm that winter while society figured out how to get technology back up and running.
So I come by my better-safe-than-sorry attitude honestly. What I've found this year, though, is that self-sufficiency has its limits.
This past week, my car — a veritable doomsday machine in itself, a mini red apocalypse on wheels — decided to blow a tire on the freeway, then a few days later my key broke in half when I put it in the ignition. I had a spare tire, but not a spare key. So I was sort of prepared for these small disasters, but mostly not.
Fortunately, I had kind co-workers, strangers and friends who assisted me in my distress. As I’ve said before, surviving the end of the world — or really, just making it through regular life — depends on having a group, in fostering community. Despite all my smoke signaling and insect baking this year, I still need a lot of help. And I’ve discovered just how many people are willing to help change a tire — or to give me an old tire to transform into a shoe.
So thanks, to all of you readers, for the friendly calls and emails; for offers to give me some supplies or your expertise and time; and, heck, even for the occasional critical comments. (Yes, you meanies, I really am paid to write this.) You guys are all a Christmas miracle. (Have I lost you yet? Yes? What can I say, ’tis the season for sappiness.) But for those of you who aren’t comforted by this goodwill to all men nonsense, who were enamored with the Mayan apocalypse and are feeling disappointed, don’t worry. There are still all sorts of things to believe in, albeit foolishly. Things like Santa Claus, Justin Bieber, trustworthy politicians and delicious fruit cake.
Or you could get all riled up about the fiscal cliff undoubtedly launching the universe into a depression. (I talked about that in February, remember? Git yer gold and ammo!) Or the state of my car. Or another shabbily prophesied date; 2020 sounds ominous, right?
Of course, these suggestions may not be enough to comfort you while grieving for the apocalypse that never was. And I completely understand. I mean, I prepared for the end of the world, and all I got was this lousy column.
Next week: Happy New Year. You’re alive!