I was looking through some travel promotions lately and noticed a theme, at least in one part of the world. Disaster. End of the world. The Seven Horsemen are coming, so why not come to Mexico and enjoy some snorkeling? That’s right, on December 21, 2012, the world is due to end and with it civilization as we know it, at least according to the Mayans. Well, sort of.
It is true that December 21 marks the end of the 5,125-year Mayan Long Count calendar, the fifth time the cycle has completed. The fifth, as in there were four before this one and there will be a sixth starting on December 23. It isn’t the end of the world, not even close, it is simply the end of a cycle.
The Long Count calendar was a linear creation, and relates to the Mayan concept of world ages. According to tradition, there were three failed worlds before the fourth when humans were placed on the earth. It’s easy to see how scholars could have misinterpreted the end of the calendar, and with it the fourth world, as apocalyptic, but that’s not how the Mayans see it. For them it’s cause for a huge celebration, a time to rejoice that we’ve made it through an entire cycle.
I’ve been thinking a lot about cycles lately, about life and the beginning and end of momentous events in our lives. For many, it’s a nice and somewhat comforting thought to consider that our lives are static, boring without a lot of change. That of course isn’t true. We all go through a number of cycles in our lives; some short and some long, some dramatic and some that hardly even register on the Richter scale of our psyche. Yet they are all important.
While we all sit around in December with bottles of Corona, celebrating with a fabricated interest and a little Y2Kesque fear, we celebrate the end of a cycle. But we shouldn’t limit it to just this one event. We should all look at the cycles in our lives and realize that just because one ends, it doesn’t mean that the end of the world is near, not even close. Even though it can be painful sometimes, the end of one thing always brings something new and with it the potential of something brilliant and transformational.