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"

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?


Maggie said...

And a very good question it is. Thanks for this post.

PJ DeGenaro said...

So says the woman with a countdown to her wedding in the sidebar. :)

Funny, all of this was on my mind yesterday when I told you I was avoiding Facebook because of its "relentless present tense" or something to that effect.

Sometimes the moment we're in can be a little hard to take and in those cases it has to be okay to think about the future (the near future, anyway.) Not in fear, but in hope.

Wormwood's Doxy said...

So says the woman with a countdown to her wedding in the sidebar. :)

Busted! ;-)

I get you, PJ. I have known a fair few days where every moment was agony, and I was grateful to have the hope of the future to cling to.

But, to be honest, I am one of those people who has great difficulty living in the moment. I'm always thinking (or worrying) about what comes next and that means I miss a lot.

I guess the real lesson is that everything depends on context...something else I need to remember!


Cany said...

ooooooh yeah:) you were just SO busted:)

these things make me crazy too except I actually believe we can help make the future better so I may live in the moment, but I read and act for the future.

i'm optomisitc. the worse things get, the better people will act given they will have little choice. so planning ahead makes this easier.

Lisa Fox said...

Good words, Doxy. I know you're aware of some of the deaths we've experienced in the blogosphere recently. That, too, tends to focus the mind.

Me? I'm getting my affairs in order and getting my funeral preferences to my priest, so as to lighten the burden of those who may be left ... just in case I get hit by the beer truck. ;-)

Wormwood's Doxy said...

Cany--what will you say when I tell you I'm not very good at planning ahead, either?!?! ;-)

That's Doxy--bad case of ADD *and* allergic to lists. It's a wonder that I manage to function at all...

Lisa--I started this post after Catherine Peters and Lisa's Ian died. And then there were Roseann's problems, and Lee's death, and the mass murders in Binghamton, and now Jim. Life feels very precarious at the moment--but the truth is that it always *is* precarious. I'm now struggling with how to walk that balance between living in the moment and planning/hoping for the future...

It's a GREAT idea to have your end-of-life stuff in order. Despite my general aversion to planning ahead, I've had a living will since I was in my 20s, and Dear Friend and I went to the lawyer recently and redid our wills and powers-of-attorney. We've made it very clear to each other what kind of death we want, if it is possible to choose. I do keep meaning to get around to planning my funeral--but at the moment, I'm too busy planning the liturgy for the wedding. :-)

just another duck on the pond said...

...well, it's 'way to late to be writing this post but, also being a.d.d. and planning-impaired, i throw it all on the lord of the dance to take the fear and struggle and moments when we realize that our life is always fragile and turn us toward love and healing in this moment and the next...i do not suggest for a moment that we live superficially, but that we live in absolute trust that love is greater than fear--whether we are living that moment in the microcosm of our home or the macrocosm of the global community. what that means on a case by case basis is our hourly task...not very profound, but it's the only template i've got.

just another duck on the pond said...

aaaaaaaaaa please feel free to EDIT grammatical and other errors before posting my otherwise peerless commentary!!! quackquackquackmutter

lj said...

Doxy -- I am so out of it since FB came along. Would you consider noting on FB when you post or is that too public? I hate coming so late to every party.