Test Case

A self-help book editor uses what she learns at work and in life to help herself.

I Heart the Apocalypse

The apocalypse means something to us...even if we don't believe it.

I love apocalypses. Apocalypsii? There's something about them. Even though 99% of the people in my social and media circle are talking about this latest apocalypse with tongue firmly in cheek, I find these end-of-the-world scenarios fascinating. The best one was in May, 2011, when I had taken a monthlong vacation and rented an apartment in New Orleans. That was the Rapture, do you remember? People were talking about setting shoes and clothes around as if their their wearers had just been transported out of them to some unknown future.

Oh no!! what's that shaking!!! Oh my Go...............

Just kidding.

Anyway, the apocalypses just seem to channel something in people. We make fun, but there's something poignant there, too. As if there's a tiny smidgen of us who thinks it might actually be true. We feel extra special towards the people we care about. We let things go more easily. The impending end of the world, no matter how little we actually believe it, makes us think about the ACTUAL end of the world. It makes us think of death. And of what might happen after death. We argue about it. We post pictures of alpacas (the alpacolypse, get it?)

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And even with the humor there's a sense that if...just if...this is really true, we're going to appreciate our lives just that much more, even if we convey it in jest. We're going to tell our friends, families, and partners that we love them, even if only on Facebook. And those sentiments aren't NOT true just because we don't really believe the world is going to end tomorrow. They're true. We just sometimes need a little (fake) impetus to convey those feelings. We pretend we're kidding, but deep underneath, there's that little part of us that actually believes. And...what if....

I also think it's fascinating that humans need to create apocalypsii. That life is such a struggle, that we need to create a rapture to imagine being free of the suffering, a way to feel special. I'm curious: what are the types of people who tend to develop these theories? What sorts of people are drawn to doomsday cults? Is it the belief that there will be a conflict between the forces of good and evil? Is it the belief that we are the good, and we will, finally, at long last, triumph over evil (or at least the people we dislike)?

There's something primal about the apocalypse. ANY apocalypse. We're meeting our maker. No matter what we think is going to happen, on some level, we're facing our lives head on. There will be no more pleasures, no more pain, no more love, and no more hate. This is it, folks. Better make it mean something.

The fact that this latest apocalypse is coming on the winter solstice, and 10 days before new year's eve, makes it seem even more poignant (even if we pretend we're not into those things). The wheel of the year is turning. Just like it always is, but most of us pretend not to notice. This year, the Mayan apocalypse, whether or not we believe, puts the turning in front of us: what have you made of yourself this year? In this life? If the world ends tomorrow, what has your life meant?

This is something many of us think of on New Year's. But this time, the world might end, too. It makes New Year's resolutions seem kind of paltry, when we think of the fact that the world might end tomorrow. Resolutions? Who cares? But what have we done?

No matter what happens (not that I really believe in the Mayan apocalypse, but just in case...) I wish you and yours a fabulous day. And I, for one, am grateful that this latest apocalypse has finally taught me how to spell the word 'apocalypse.'

Melissa Kirk is a writer and editor who works as an acquisitions and developmental editor at New Harbinger Publications, a self-help psychology publisher in Oakland, CA. 

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