Recently I was in a conversation with an extremely smart man and he was telling me his version of the Apocalypse, in this case it was financial and included the demise of our monetary system, hyperinflation and high-level collusion, all leading to a Mad Max world. It seems like I'm hearing a lot of strange tales these days ... chemicals being dumped on our heads as part of what we think are jet trails, secret prison camps for internal terrorists, in-home spy systems through digital television, and untold number of alien activities.
All of these may be true ... I definitely cannot prove them false. But, one thing I have figured out is that they all involve fear and if I choose to believe them, I would have to live in fear. I'm not going to do that any more. I spent much of my early life in fear ... fear of almost everything. It often kept me from doing what I wanted to do.
There was a game I used to play in an attempt to reduce that fear. I would think of every possible permutation of what might happen in a situation and then work out what I would do in each case. It made me feel stronger and more in control. There was only one problem ... almost always, in spite of carefully working out all the possibilities, something completely unexpected would happen. Finally I got the picture that I couldn't predict the future ... I could only stay in the present and do my best to cope with what came my way.
I think all these doomsday scenarios are somewhat like that game. Each one is possible but we really don't know if any of them will happen because game changers happen all the time. One day we think there's a market for a few thousand computers in the world; the next day, school children are writing apps for iPhones.
We have a choice of what we believe, but what we believe affects how we live our lives. If we believe that bankers are evil conspirators who try to steal our money, we try to find a way to take our money out of the system. If we believe the world is a hazardous place, we try to build protective barriers and find weapons to defend ourselves. When we see evil and danger in every corner; we start to live in fear.
I'm a practical person so I believe in being reasonably cautious and observing the signs of change in the world, but, call it pollyanna, apathy or just plain ignorance, I am opting out of the fear cycle. I've lived my entire life under jet trails, I refuse to see them as anything other than interesting patterns in the sky.
And, if the Apocalypse is really coming, and I'm dead wrong, I'll deal with that when it gets here. Meantime, I'm going to live in joy, focusing on the beauty of this world, believing that most people want to do what's right (even politicians, although that is sometimes a stretch) and that I'm better off living each moment fully rather than trying to anticipate a future which no one can know with any certainty.
I think Lillian Carter (Jimmy's mom) said it best: "I don't think about risks much. I just do what I want to do. If you gotta go, you gotta go."