I hate to break it to you, but the end of the 13th b'ak'tun (a cycle from the Mayan calendar) is coming up in just three weeks. And everybody knows that when the calendar ends, so does the world. So come Dec. 21, you won't have to worry about any last minute Christmas shopping.
I haven't seen as much hype about this "end of the world" as there was for Harold Camping's much ballyhooed end of the world and the resulting rapture (not to be confused with the Debby Harry song from the 80s).
BTW, "ballyhooed" is not a word I get to use very much but it just sort of slipped naturally into that last sentence. It refers to sensationalized marketing efforts. Its origins are said to be associated with a mythical creature called the ballyhoo bird that an 1880 Harper's magazine article described as having four wings, two heads and the ability to whistle through one bill while singing through the other.
Which just about describes Harold Camping.
But I digress.
End of the world or not, let's face it, all of our days, like the calendar, are numbered. Everything ends (except for Buddha and Friends reruns). Whether the world ends on Dec. 21, 2012 with a bang, or slowly chokes from Global Warming, it doesn't change the fact of our mortality. If nothing ended, there wouldn't be any room for anything else to begin.
I'm not trying to sound like a Debbie Downer, just realistic. Even if the world ended tomorrow, odds are something new would grow in its place. And down the road that world would grow arrogant about lasting forever and eventually implode or explode as well. It's that cycle of life and death that only Buddha seemed to have overcome.
I suppose it is why mankind invented the afterlife. Because it is a lot easier to face mortality if you know you have somewhere to go after you die. If there is an afterlife, I hope it doesn't involve having to be reunited with all of your dead relatives. Because I have a shitload of them and I really didn't know or particularly like any of them. So being reunited with strangers isn't my idea of paradise. And I would rather not be reincarnated unless I could come back as someone like Brad Pitt (though who knows if he is really happy).
I am actually amazed at the elaborate institutions and complex myths mankind has concocted to stave off ceasing to exist. There seem to be a infinite number of religions claiming to be the one, true path to salvation. And ironically religions are probably the number one cause of people fighting and killing each other.
And where did civilizations like the Egyptians come up with their elaborate rituals and ceremonies that were supposed to guarantee passage to the after world (for those rich and powerful enough to warrant it)? Who is giving these people all of these instructions? As far as I know, the dead still don't have a 4G cell phone plan that includes unlimited calling to this world. The only people I know talking to the dead are those mental midgets on Ghost Adventurers and the only thing the dead seem to be capable of saying are barely audible, garbled words about Zak's bad haircuts.
Oh well, I suppose we will all find out on Dec. 21.