Thursday, December 20, 2012

It's the end of the world as we know it [and I feel fine]

Michael Stipe and company must be billionaires many times over by the end of this apocalyptic weekend.

The Athens-based elders of alternative music jolted many ennui-filled and 'different' teenagers to dancing along with a song whose lyrics would not simply obey with the upbeat messages of most pop music. I think that this is why "It's the End of the World as We Know It" is arguably one of the most influential songs of its decade. Much like the music of R.E.M., that was designed to inspire a giddy frenzy of dancing and then thinking, the Mayan apocalypse story is the subject of pop culture smirks, but draws us into something deeper than what it appears. Humor and irony, after all can be our way of facing unknown disaster as predicted by an ancient calendar. We smugly tell our friends that we already know that those dead Mayas cannot pull one over on us so quickly, and then silently wonder if these Mesoamericans were not right.

Metaphysically speaking, the Mayan predictions have a lot in common with the R.E.M. song about the 'end.' They both are man made means of capturing their thoughts from imagination onto paper or stone. One rock group hoped to reach audiences with entertaining words that listeners could only dream of drafting. The Mayan priests more than likely wanted to entertain their brethren, by possessing a power that mere mortals could never possess. Sounds like our pop stars have a past life somewhere as more than just figurative "gods." Their words are simply ideas that each of us has to express, some with more meaning than others. Who gives these words meaning? We do.

What lesson can we draw from this as we enter another Armageddon-free year? If we can choose to ignore faulty predictions of long lost cultures, we can benefit from ignoring those who believe that they are prophets who can define our limits and predict our failings.

I learned from the popular television series "Mad Men," that this world can be broken down into an internal conflict we have. Do we do what we want or do we do what is expected of us? We free ourselves for brighter futures when we realize that, although we are 'expected' to succumb to Doomsday thinking, we have the individual freedom to want something better and know that it is coming. Equally, there are those whose 'constructive criticism' and unsolicited advice do us more harm as they create a world from the same human minds that we have. Our power comes from the Truth that we maintain in our hearts.

As I lay me down to sleep the evening of December 20, I know what I want in spite of what is expected. I want to wake up on December 22 with the morning newspaper and an egg and cheese sandwich. And I feel fine...

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