Unsolicited Advice for Living in the End Times
It’s a new year, and the beginning of a second one for this column and the magazine it appears in. We are back. We have returned, and we’re very happy to be here. I know what some of you are thinking (don’t suppose for a minute that I can’t see that internal, gloating smile forming on the lips that live in your brain): “Hey, they’re back. What’s up with that? Why is that end-of-times guy still yapping away instead of eating canned goods in a bunker somewhere?” “Unsolicited Advice for Living in the End Times” appears in The New Inquiry Magazine every month. Subscribe for $2 and get Volume 12: Weather
If that little kerfuffle with the Mayan end-of-world fail is on your mind, then it’s best we part company right now. Let’s not waste any more of my precious time. I don’t care what Bob Dylan said; I say do think twice—at least twice. This column is not about predicting the future or lack of one but is rather a reading of the present that can help us proceed to the exits in an enjoyable way and at a safe speed. It can be a guide for what to pick up along the road to smooth the way through your last laps, or it can offer hints at what to ditch. As important as it is to go out in style, it’s most important to go out in your own style. Be the boss of you.
No matter how great your life is, no one should wind up like that Fassbinder film Berlin Alexanderplatz: 15 perfect hours and then poof, it all goes wonky in the last 30 minutes. Trust me: No one wants this. Our egress will define our existence.
So if you keep reading and take my advice, I can promise you a shot at a peaceful and pleasurable departure. We will make a joyful noise, but in a quiet way. Balance will be our guiding light. It’s going to be “a bissel of this and a bissel of that” way of life, or if you prefer a different sort of cultural appropriation, think of it as a thoughtful mix of yin and yang. And for all those “my way or the highway” types, they can think of it as a little bit country, a little bit rock and roll. What I’m trying to say here is that everyone has their own way; the important thing is to be on your way.
One thing we need above all is fun. Sounds simple, but fun can be the fuel that drives us where we want to go. In the midst of the many “good times were had by all” periods that you will experience on your fun quests, please try to remember that we still have a future and we will always have a past. We need to keep them, both of them, in the front of our minds and deep in our hearts. If we can make a sweet cocktail of those two parts of ourselves, then I know we’ll be able to fly through the end of times with the greatest of ease. We might even have time for a little philosophy, a bit of cosmic Q & A. Who knows, we might finally get answers to some of the big questions we’ve always had, like “What is the politically correct way to eat a black-and-white cookie?” or “Will there ever be a final season of Arrested Development?” But remember, even if none of the puzzles of our life are solved or any of its questions answered, we still need to happily acknowledge having embraced our doubts and be thankful for the lifeblood that is our curiosity.
So ride with me, friends, through the end times, and I’ll take the top down—that I can guarantee.