Last night I fell asleep early watching Adventure Time, and forgot to do the time zone conversion which would have told me that the world had already ended at 7:12 pm local time! Coincidentally, it ended up being an eerie night. There was a dramatic rain storm with high winds, and the outdoor Christmas lights were banging against the house. I awoke at 1:30 am to the incessant rattling of an empty garbage bin rolling up and down the street. Strangest of all, in our quiet suburb, an intoxicated man ran up and down the street yelling to everyone or no one in the driving rain. It was impossible to sleep, so Rom and I got up and made tea and sat talking in the kitchen for a couple of hours. We felt safe and cozy together, with our child sleeping downstairs.
A couple of weeks ago, I was trying to write a bucket list: things I want to see and do in my lifetime. Things I would regret if I didn’t do them. But I kept drawing a blank. There are places I’d like to see, but I don’t feel compelled to visit them. It would just be nice. There are concerts I’d love to attend, but I don’t know how aggressively I want to pursue tickets. I don’t seek adventure. I don’t want to meet any celebrities. I don’t want more stuff.
Part of the reason I don’t have a life-long to-do list is that I have a few decades behind me and I’ve already done much of what I dreamed of. I’ve lived in three different cities around the continent, have a satisfying career, have a good relationship with my family of origin, love my spouse, and love to spend time with our grown-up kid. I have a comfortable lifestyle and don’t lack for anything. My real wish is to enjoy more of the same; for this to just continue!
That’s not to say I don’t anticipate things. I like planning trips, looking forward to concerts, eating at new restaurants, trying new recipes, hearing from friends, celebrating holidays and birthdays, and ever so many more things. But any one particular instance of these things is not the point – it’s the whole picture.
My conclusion is that looking at end times is counter-productive. If the world ended last night, all of our worries about the economy, and our own budgets, and our use of oil, and what we ate, and whether we recycled – would all cease to matter. There would be no future generations to pass our world along to. Therefore, it would all come down to who we were with and how we felt at the end. At our house we would probably say, “Remember how we all sat on the couch and ate candy canes and watched Adventure Time?” Because those moments and that togetherness are what counts.
Luckily time didn’t stop, and what we do from now on matters. We can be kind and generous. We can bring peace and tread lightly on the Earth. We can plan and anticipate. We can live in the moment. We can feel things deeply. We can come to terms with the past and make peace with ourselves. We can act ethically at home and at work. All of our actions make a difference. We’re still here!