The end of the world is coming and is happening, or so my friend confidently asserted.
Over not-so-friendly banter concerning fish chips and the future of the world, we had started talking about the topic that ends all topics: doomsday. As most of the up-to-date, basement-dwelling youngsters of the Internet know, doomsday is supposed to occur on Dec. 21, according to the Mayan calendar. This is not the first time that Earth’s last day has been predicted. Other dates were set in the last decade: 01-01-01, 03-03-03, 05-05-05, or pretty much any date that a member of Generation X or Y will come across once in a lifetime. Some dates were urban legends, a handful prophesied by renowned figures, some handed down by our ancestors, and some overblown guesses by denizens of the Internet.
But suppose any one of the dates was conclusive and our pending doom was to become impending, how, I began to wonder, will the world behave?
I reckon churches will be more popular than ever. Both fanatics and “undecided agnostics” will flock to churches begging for salvation, more or less inducing stampedes that will kill numbers of people. There’ll be excess work for embalmers so they’ll probably impose higher rates. Burial grounds will be in short supply and, therefore, more expensive. Or maybe more people will opt for cremation? Those who have lost loved ones will probably need psychiatric help, and they’ll get through their loss in a lethargic, drug-induced stupor. I suppose psychiatrists will have a very productive time dispensing prescriptions, earning them a lot of money and a lot of happy patients.
Journalists will most probably have a field day covering various tragedies, the epiphanies of people who have never really mattered, the reactions of people who supposedly matter, the governments’ say on the topic, the celebrities’ own take. Stuff like “100 Dishes to Eat Before You Die!” or “How to Have a Perfect Figure for your Casket!” will be run in magazines and other publications.
Somebody is bound to think of revolutionary ways to keep one’s body looking good and one’s makeup on and one’s hair perfect even after all the stressful events leading to the least awaited day.
Will the various governments declare nonworking holidays? There will be no point in earning money, after all. Actually, there will be no more point in the economy. We won’t need the world or money to go around anymore; we’re all about to die! Who will actually be noble enough to dedicate their last day on Earth to the trivia of other people’s lives? We won’t need to listen to the news, we won’t need to go to class, we won’t need to go to our menial jobs and to the factories for low wages.
The world will be at a standstill. Quite possibly, the embalmers, psychiatrists, reporters and magazine editors, various officials of the government, or maybe even some priests, will choose to not perform their responsibilities. There will be a peaceful solemnness on Earth, possibly for the first time since humanity ruled it. Unless there’s still that possibility of Rebecca Black releasing her album on the last day, if worse comes to worst.
TV shows will be cancelled, everyone will be quiet, the animals will whimper when they feel the ground trembling. We’ll be sitting on our couches, talking about the past, about what we’ve done and what we should’ve done. Staring at all the things we had been able to afford in our struggle with our lives, maybe thinking that it was such a waste that we hadn’t sold them earlier. I’ll look at the house and the car my parents left me and think, “I never even got to use them.” I’ll look up at my room on the upper floor, disorganized but not dirty, at my books, my computer, my clothes out of which I had slithered like a snake and left on the floor for nobody knows how long… I’ll be all over the place, like the end of the world had already come, but only in my room. My stuff will all stay the same. The only difference will be that I will not be able to mess up my room more than it’s been messed up because I won’t be using it anymore.
“You’re being ridiculous and blatantly sappy,” my friend told me after I had poured out my thoughts. “Of course nobody will want to work on that day! Everybody will want to do something, but nobody will be able to do anything. After all, what’s the point? We’re all going to die, anyway. And lay off those fish chips; they’re not good for you.”
There we were, talking about dying, and she was giving me advice on how to prolong my life. But I knew she was right. Knowing myself, I’ll probably just stay at home, read some books, and watch DVDs of my favorite movies with a bowl of fish chips or popcorn, or maybe nothing, depending on the state of my wallet on that particular day. I’ll be thinking of things I’d like to do before dying—going to New York and watching authentic Broadway, hitchhiking across Europe, experiencing the joblessness malaise in my mid-20s and waiting until I’m in my 30s before doing something about it, diving in Australia and possibly getting skin cancer, getting old enough to write a memoir on my boring life, experiencing the senescence of old age, slowly dying of lung cancer because of a vice I can’t kick, and probably being able to resolve my issues in regard to the afterlife.
Those things, even the littlest or darkest things, sound very endearing when you think about your nearing death.
I’ll start thinking about my education: Was it all in vain? I’ll be earning my diploma—for what? So I can have a nice, fancy record after I’m dead? It’s nothing to brag about anymore, it’s pointless. I’ll be dying and the least of my concerns is whether I studied enough to find a stable job, although there might come relief after the thought of wastefulness has died away. I won’t have to pressure myself to get a job and start living my life as soon as possible; I won’t have to exert any effort for another human being again in exchange for civility. And one more thing: I won’t ever be broke again.
Even if it seems like I have a rather dark disposition in life, I don’t mind at all the chaos that the impending doom may bring. It actually inspires me to carry on with my life with more vigor, more enthusiasm. Although it may sound naïve and childish, I am more inspired to face whatever challenge may come. The end of the world will occur sooner or later, and in any case, we won’t be able to do anything about it but make ourselves secure in the fact that we led our life in the way we wanted, without regrets and without second thoughts.
I’ll make sure that the life I lead will be a life that I will never regret, no matter how crappy it may be. So even if worldly activities are rendered useless, at least my life, in my own humble opinion, won’t be.
Sharmaine Dangaran, 19, is a senior literature student at Far Eastern University Manila.
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