Monday, February 7, 2011

Apocalypse Soon

On the way to the Mountain early this morning, the red sun heralded a storm approaching (“…sailors take warning!”), but the glow was magnificent and the cold, crisp air created a sparkling luster. Out of the beautiful silence came a simple question from my son that started a chilling thought process.

“So what’s going on in Egypt?”

The evening before we had been looking at Utube videos of a UFO sighted over Jerusalem. A brilliant and pulsating light had dropped low, then with an explosion, rocketed upwards and danced with others in a pattern before disappearing. Just the day before, he had been remembering, he confided, our conversation last month about an article I had read which promised that the coming months would bring many sightings over cities as aliens made us comfortable with the reality of their existence.

Taking his lead about Egypt, I mused on the predictions of apocalypse and transcendence that are intensifying, focused on the fast approaching date of December 21, 2012. Suspending our comfortable and well-supported belief that life as we know it will go on pretty much as usual day after day without significant upheaval, one can link together so many of the world’s recent and current events and surmise that these visions of drastic change could, in fact, be coming true.

Egypt is following Tunisia, sprouting further protests in Jordan, and has planted seeds of disquiet in who knows what other land. The internet connects people around the world and especially in countries where repression is strong. Doors are harder to keep closed now and a mass of individuals flood out onto the streets, first online, then in reality, and governments fall.

The vision of hippies (“Power to the People!”) in the Sixties and communists in the twenties of a world population united as one comes closer into being through a complicated little box of circuitry and an unlimited number of simple zeros and ones. The world as we knew it has, in fact, changed quite radically.

Communication between lovers and neighbors is inevitable and unstoppable. It is our natural tendency as humans to come together, to connect. Fear is what makes enemies of each other. Not having enough, or at least as much as the next guy, or losing what we do have, makes us hold on tighter, build walls around us, and strike out against others.

My sister Lane makes the point that my effort to sell insurance might not be reaping the promised rewards because, both personally and as an industry, it is fear-based and non-productive. Worry about the future--even if you might be solving the problem--will not bring any more security in the moment.

On my way to the mountain, I hold that theory to the factual fire that so much of the money floating over the snow at the ski area is made by investment bankers trading on the hopes and fears of a volatile market. Why are they doing so well? And why do I stand outside of that, peering in and wanting just a little share of their comfort and happiness?

In 2008, I rode the chairlift with some of those who expressed sickness and discomfort, fear, because their friends had tumbled from six figure incomes to five and sold their second homes. I knew many others (including myself) who had lost their only home and had no job at all. It was hard to be sympathetic and yet I could feel their suffering because at the very core, suffering is no less intense for the reason.

The world as we knew it was shaken by the exposed fragility we realized so painfully was in the system. We elected a new President, concentrated on the determination to save the giants too big to fail and bought into the promises of so many changes ahead.

Three years later, however, the word “sub-prime” carries little resonance and the upheaval in Egypt is a distant story supplanted by the Super Bowl. We go about our business in the same cars, focused on our bank accounts, building towards the next vacation and the day we can retire. The fear that once gripped us has settled back into the dust created by a life of relative ease.

“So what if…,” I asked my son, “That time, like the era before Noah was advised to build an arc, was a warning to us all to change our ways? What if, having largely disregarded the fundamental calls for change, the computers will crash and all that paper wealth is washed away like so much rain upon this snow?”

We drove in more silence as the red sun rose over the peaceful valley so white, wisps of smoke rising out of chimneys in cold, crisp curls.

We are all one, I hope, just neighbors helping neighbors, pulling each other out of ditches and trying to stay warm and fed. We have learned enough, hopefully, to know that others live in deserts and dress differently to keep their own selves cool. Many who have not cut their fingers on practical tasks would not survive, choosing at some level to come back at a better time.

There is, however, an ever-growing number of people ready to embrace the change, who are learning to adapt and thrive. Love and gratitude, music and passion seem to be the uniting components. Fear, so divisive and destructive, falls away, soothed by the infinite healing power of Faith.

It seems no coincidence that in the evening, in a place so mundane as a grocery store, I should come upon two friends reaching the very same conclusions at the end of a conversation that started with a question about Egypt.

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