Saturday, May 21, 2011

After the End of the World

With today being the predicted rapture by certain religious group, it brings to mind what happens to someone who has bought into one of these predictions.

Put yourself in this situation. You expect the end of the world to occur on the stroke of midnight. In preparation you have set your life in order and have gone out in your backyard to await the event. You gaze up toward the Milky Way, say a prayer and take a deep breath. A car backfires and you jump, your heart racing faster than the winner approaching a NASCAR finish line. You check your watch. 11:59. The second hand approaches the top of the dial. You countdown like when the ball descends at Times Square on New Years Eve. 10 . . . 9 . . . 8 . . . 7 . . . 6 . . . 5 . . . 4 . . . 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . . You scrunch your eyes shut and then open them. Your oak tree still stands where you last saw it. The knot hole in your fence is still there and, in fact, your whole fence has not been incinerated by a fiery explosion. You regard your neighbor’s house. Still standing, not demolished by a blast of hot air. You look around. Your house looks the same and your patio devoid of furniture that you donated to the Salvation Army remains immaculate. You check your watch again. 12:01. You tap the dial. Can it be correct? Maybe it’s set wrong. Then you remember an hour ago you synchronized it with the atomic clock at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, Colorado.

What are you going to do now? You’ve given away all your possessions, deeded your house to your alienated son, told all your friends that the end is coming. When you stumble out the door in the morning to pick up the newspaper, your neighbor Fred will laugh and say, “You’re still here. Didn’t happen did it?” Oh, yeah, you forgot. You discontinued the newspaper. You won’t have to face Fred, but you won’t be able to hide in your house for long. Your son will show up to take possession and be delighted to kick you out. You decided not to sign up for Social Security or Medicare since a stipend and health care wouldn’t be needed after the end of the world. You gave all your savings to the bearded prophet in the flowing robe who convinced you doomsday was approaching. Now what?

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