Friday, December 21, 2012

Are you surprised to still be here?

Happy 13.0.0.0.0! Are you surprised to still be here?

The Maya, who were consummate astronomers and constructors of calendars, made what is known as the "long count" calendar which runs for a period of 5,125 years and then resets. This period of time is further divided into 13 Baktuns. (A Baktun lasts approximately 394 years.) Today is the day, 13.0.0.0.0, that those 5,125 years and 13 Baktuns end and the calendar resets.

The Maya with their advanced civilization and culture maintain a somewhat mystical hold over the imaginations of many people - including, I admit, me - and that accounts, I think, for why this date has received such hyped attention and has been looked forward to for many months now by some with a mixture of excitement and dread. In addition, there are those who are simply fascinated with the idea of an apocalypse and seem to spend their lives looking for it and looking for signs of its coming. Naturally, they would grab hold of the date of the end of Mayan "long count" calendar with both hands and start preparing for the End of the World.

There's no proof that the Maya thought of this date as the End of the World at all. It seems likely that they thought of it just as we think of December 31/January 1 - the end of one year, one era, and beginning of another. I think they would have fully expected to be around tomorrow to see the beginning of that new era.

Time is a human construct and the Maya may have been the most obsessed culture in human history with imposing their concept of time on things. Nature, though, has no use for our obsession with the passage of time. The sun comes up and the sun goes down. Earth continues its journey through the heavens. Plants and animals and humans begin their lives on it, lives which stretch out to their natural or unnatural end, and they return in one way or another to the Earth which generated them. And the Earth continues its journey through the heavens; the sun comes up and the sun goes down, but there are no divisions of time in Nature. It flows like a river. Would we do better to accept Nature's wisdom and give up some of our obsession with the passage of time, simply living in the moment? I think the wisest among us are able to achieve that. It is something to strive for beyond 13.0.0.0.0.

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