A Weekly Column
By Joseph Walker
YEARS TO A
There’s a big day coming:
Not only does it have a lovely, once-in-a-millennium symmetry to it, but it also marks the end of the 1,872,000-day cycle of the ancient Mayan calendar.
That’s a long run – so long that none of the ancient Mayans who developed it are going to be around to say “Happy New Year” to each other.
Which is sort of interesting, when you stop and think about it. These people could develop an extraordinarily complex calendar that has endured for more than 500 centuries, but they couldn’t figure out how to do the most basic thing in the world: stay alive. There’s a message there for the folks at Hallmark and Daytimer, but I’m not exactly sure what it is.
Coincidentally (or perhaps not?) the year 2012 will also feature a rare astronomical alignment involving the Sun, the moon and several planets (not including, of course, Pluto, which we now know isn’t really a planet but is merely Mickey Mouse’s dog). According to Newsweek magazine, at least one researcher “says he believes the alignment will trigger a reversal in the magnetic fields of the Sun, causing it to get 10 or 20 times hotter, which will reverse the Earth’s rotation on its axis and flood its inhabitants.
“Mainstream astronomers,” Newsweek hastens to add, “don’t agree.”
There are those in the metaphysical world who are quite worked up over what 2012 might mean to even the non-Mayans among us. Some see it as the end of the world (how do you say “doomsday” in Mayan?). Others see it as a gateway through which all manner of interesting phenomena – from spiritual healing to UFOs – may pass.
I don’t know about that, but I do know what 2012 represents to me. My youngest child, Jon, will turn 21 – a fully fledged adult. A meaningful part of my life will be over. Anita and I will be empty-nesters. Our children will all be adults. And living away from home.
Which isn’t exactly a doomsday scenario. I mean, this won’t reverse the Earth’s rotation or anything. But it’s the end of something important to me. I love the day-to-day processes of being a father. I love sharing meals and TV programs. I love spontaneous conversations and spur-of-the-moment games. I love chasing my daughter through the house as we try to tickle each other. I love impulsive wrestling matches with my son on the living room floor. I love laughing together. I love crying together. I love working together. I love playing together.
I just love being . . . you know . . . together.
I know – they will always be my children, and I will always be their father. But it’s different when your children become adults. I know how that works. So I’m not especially looking forward to 2012 even though I understand that it’s going to happen whether I like it or not. The Mayan calendar is going to end. The Sun is going to slip into its rare astronomical alignment. And my children are going to grow up. There isn’t much I can do about any of it.
Except, perhaps, to prepare for it. I can savor every moment that I have with my two children still at home. I can make sure there are no regrets. I can work on being a better grandfather, and a more valuable resource to my adult children. And I can strengthen my relationship with Anita, my best friend and partner in Life Beyond 2012.
And I can take another lesson from the Mayans. According to Newsweek, they viewed life as
cyclical. “The world collapses,”
explained David Carrasco, professor of Latin American religions at
So I guess that’s my personal goal for
Which, come to think of it, would make it a really big day for me and my family.
If not the Mayans.
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Look for Joe's book, "How Can You Mend a Broken Spleen? Home Remedies for an Ailing World." It is available on-line through www.Amazon.com.