In 1999, I spent the better part of my career bumbling from one “Y2K Preparedness Meeting” to another. The world was convinced that computers were going to shut down society because their clocks wouldn’t be able to turn over from 1999 to 2000. It was feared that at midnight on 01/01/00, electrical grids would collapse, computerized networks would go berserk and satellites might fall from the sky. People were buying bottled water and stocking up on supplies. Certainly it was important, particularly for large businesses, to have a plan of action should there actually be a problem. After spending untold thousands of dollars and countless hours of manpower, nothing happened. Dick Clark stood in times square counting down the seconds until midnight like he’d done so many times before. And when the clock struck twelve, nothing happened.
The Mayan Apocalypse was a similar story. Just twelve years after the “Y2K” phenomenon proved the world to be filled with worry-warts, an ancient Mayan calendar pushed the internet into fits of wonder and speculation. Proof that our virtual lives have grown by leaps and bounds since the turn of the century exists in the fact that those who truly believe the earth was to end today primarily limited their fears to the internet. Websites and Facebook pages devoted to the potential doom offered tips on survival and advertisements for items including gas masks, first aid kits and hand-crank radios, that will be necessary to survive.
In the weeks leading up to today, we didn’t see lines of customers at hardware stores waiting to purchase generators and we didn't see bread, milk and bathroom tissue shortages in our supermarkets. Perhaps, of course, we’ve been distracted by other tragedies based in current reality and not on ancient calculations, but there are still many who believed just last night that the world would end today.
Just not the Mayans …
At least not the Mayans living in the city of Merido, Mexico or anyone in the Mayan village of Yaxuna. They know the calendar that their ancestors left them is turning a phase – the end of an era and the beginning of a new one – but they did’t think we’d all perish. They're anticipating a new era. We buy a new calendar every year. Mayan calendars simply last longer.
December 21, 2012 is not only the “end” of the ancient Mayan Calendar but it’s also the date of a routine winter solstice, the time each year at which the noon-time sun appears at its lowest altitude above the horizon. So today is just the shortest day of the year … not the last day.
Then again maybe no one is reading this.
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