Monday, April 06, 2009

It's the end of the world as we know it....

Recently, I was reading MattyBoy's grim blog post on the economy (specifically, the impending tidal wave of credit default swaps), and I was feeling all worried and afraid. I've noted before that I'm a worrier by nature, and stuff like this can just send me right over the edge. It's huge and scary and totally out of my control--an issue tailor-made to keep me awake in the middle of the night.

But let's be realistic--nothing lasts forever. Certainly not governments or economic systems. The human belief that we can go on and on eternally, "just the way we are now," is silly.

This may not sound like a very optimistic approach to you, but it helps me to consider this.....

Every two or three hundred million years, there appears to be a mass extinction of life on this planet. We are probably about due for another one. At some point, there will be another asteroid hit, or a massive nuclear accident/attack, or a virus we can't stop. At some point, we will run out of resources, luck, or both.

It comforts me to know this because it actually gives added urgency to the need to live NOW. We have no control over the markets or the possibility of cataclysmic events--but we do have control over what we focus on in the moment.

The thought that there might be no more tomorrows reminds me that, just for today, there is love and beauty and music and dark chocolate/red wine. There is poetry and Jasper's unearned adoration and the way Dear Friend's eyes sparkle when he laughs. There are lilies and sunsets and whatever else makes you happy.

No matter how much we like to pretend otherwise, the only moment we know we have is the very one in which we are breathing.

This is much on my mind right now because of the situation with Dear Friend's brother-in-law, who was rushed to surgery last night to try and stop bleeding in his brain. As of this afternoon, he was relatively alert and communicative. For now, every word, every glance, every squeeze of the hand is a blessing to him and to his family.

And they should be to the rest of us, if only we could pay attention...

I am not good at paying attention, and I know I'm not alone in that. Some part of us knows that we should revel in the time we have, but we rarely do. It usually takes tragedy to remind us of the importance of this moment--and we quickly forget again when the tragedy recedes into the distance. We are a remarkably stupid species, in that regard.

None of us is going to live forever. I believe we have a responsibility to be good stewards of what we have, so I strongly support efforts to change the way we live in the world. But we were ALWAYS going to die. Individually and as a species. The only really important question is: "How are we going to live...today?"

That is my question for myself during Holy Week. The world is coming to an end: What am I going to do before it happens?