In his weekly blog series The Last Generation—really more of a highly flirtatious conversation, littered with innuendo—Max Warren discusses matters of general interest to our generation, frequently quotes things, and spills out the addled contents of a deviant mind.
As we move into 2012, I’ve noticed that most people seem preoccupied with two things. The first, of course, comes with every new year: resolutions and the bright, shining future we intend to build for ourselves—this year, finally, is the year. The second, on the other hand, is something new: will December 2012 really, as some doomsayers claim, be the End of Days—have we truly seen our last Dick Clark and Ryan Seacrest New Year?
The first is vital because, I truly believe that, regardless of fervently made resolutions, time is running out for us. The second matters because, well, if the Mayans are being read correctly, then we’re the Last Generation in more ways than one…
Now, being a confirmed skeptic, I personally am expecting little on December 21, 2012. Don’t misunderstand; I’ll be drinking as much champagne as possible with my nearest and dearest just in case, but I’m expecting to cruise right through to another sunrise. Even if I weren’t, though, I don’t see a potential apocalypse as all that consequential — and that, dear readers, is what I want to discuss.
You see, there’s a secret that I’m going to let you in on.
The world is ending every day.
I know that sounds obvious, at first glance. You can hardly read the news without being depressed by tinpot dictators, the collapse of the euro, or horrendous natural disasters. But those are big, abstract fears, and not what I’m talking about. After all, you can write all of them off as problems in a far off place that most of us are fortunate not to inhabit; problems that are not likely to affect our fat and prosperous American lives anytime soon. No, what I’m concerned about is more personal.
Do something for me. Breathe in. Breathe out. Feel your heartbeat in your own chest. That’s a timer and it’s counting down to the day you die. Now close your eyes and picture nothing but nothing but nothing but that blackness, forever.
Scary? It can be. At the end of the day, we’re nothing more than walking bags of ephemeral thoughts and squishy organs and we’re all marching towards that long, long night. Death—to use the word—is something everyone before us has done and everyone after us will do. You’re going to be dead far, far longer than you’re alive—forever even. And, you know what? Eternity is a really long time, whether we’re conscious of it or not.
Your world is ending every single day. And guess what? There’s no promise of a ripe old age. Sure, it could be sixty years before your time runs out, but it could just as easily be tomorrow. At the end, as Neil Gaiman put it, you get what everyone gets—you get a lifetime.
Doesn’t that sound like a pretty good goddamn reason to do something while you’re here?
You know, we talk a big game, most of us, about all the things we’re going to do and all the things we’re going to be. The world is ours, to hear it told. But all that talk is just that—talk. I think that too often we convince ourselves that we’re immortal (much better than having to face the thought of all that blackness) and, as a result, it becomes far easier for us to say, “I’ll turn my life around tomorrow.”
That’s fear. It’s fear of making a bold commitment and its fear of facing our own mortality. It’s the belief that if we can convince ourselves there’s room to push things back, then we can’t die — simply because we haven’t had time to accomplish our goals yet. That’s our conceit and our self-delusion. Well, the thing is, death doesn’t care how far down you’ve gone on your bucket list.
I have a friend, we’ll call her Aiden, who recently escaped Zion, fled to Chicago and began a new life. Going into it, she had nothing but a very few friends in her adoptive city, and the commitment that comes with deciding to pursue her dreams. A scary situation to dive into and, the caution mongers might even call it ill-advised—but it’s working out swimmingly so far and, even if it weren’t, I know she’d still rather have taken her shot than played it safe.
That’s what matters: that we take our shot, rather than wasting weeks, or months, or even years lining it up. Life is constantly in motion and, when it comes down to it, everything is a moving target. If you wait too long, you’re apt to find that your target has moved and you’ve missed all the same. Only now, you’re left with that much less ammo and time.
I’m not advocating action without deliberation. What I am advocating, though, is that once we’ve thought it through and made our decisions, we don’t then delude ourselves into paralysis. There’s simply not enough time.
Are the aliens coming in 2012? Is it Ragnarok? The Battle of Meggido? It doesn’t matter. The point is that on December 21st, no matter what happens, all of us will be nearly one year closer to death — if we’re fortunate enough to make it even that far. So seize this year you’re being given, make it yours, rely on yourself to change your life and not the fairy dust of some arbitrary resolution.
Let me leave you with a thought by “Wild” Bill Saroyan. He was speaking to writers, but I think it’s applicable to all of us:
“Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep really sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”
Max welcomes your comments and criticisms in the appropriate section below. He further wishes to direct all conspiracy theories and requests for invitations to his 2012 party—to be held at the Flat Iron Lounge in NYC—to Max.Z.Warren@gmail.com