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Shadow boxing the apocalypse
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Everyone seems agog with the notion that something cataclysmic is going to transpire this Friday.

Some people are just straight up tripping, squirreling away granola bars and batteries (a good idea to do anyway in the name of hurricane preparedness.) Others are meditating on world peace (another excellent practice that couldn’t hurt.) Most of us are still raw, mourning last week’s massacre of 26 children and teachers in Newtown, CT.

I’m over here drinking chai, counting my blessings and doing my best to be present, wondering if it’s ever going to get cold enough for my tulips to bloom (bulbs like a nice freeze.)

Maybe it is the end of the world as we know it, and I’m trying real hard to feel fine.

The ancient Mayans calculated December 21, 2012 as the end of the 5125–year cycle known as Baktun 13, so far out in their future that they never bothered to chip out a new set of circular stone Long Count calendars. (No such thing as running out to Staples for a new desk blotter back then.) Many modern humans have interpreted this terminus as a harbinger of disaster: Earthquakes, blackouts, solar flares, the reversal of the planet’s magnetic poles, an invisible planet made of anti–matter coming to eat the earth. In the darker corners of the Internet, you will find that Atlantis going to rise from the ocean floor and the moon will be shaped like an egg.

All this doom is all pretty unlikely, reckons Hunbatz Men, a shaman and Mayan daykeeper from Mexico’s YucatÀn Peninsula who has traveled the world educating on the Mayan prophecies.

“In this crazy Western culture, when something comes to the end, it means negative things,” said Men in a recent interview. “In fact, the Mayan calendar does not end, it is never ending. We are just coming to the end of a cycle, and we will begin again.”

It’s hardly a surprise that the Mayans’ legacy has been misconstrued. We’ve been ignoring the wisdom of indigenous peoples for centuries, and now suddenly we’re going to start claiming them as gospel? If I were a Mayan ancestor and rode the cosmic rays home to find all these Johnny–come–latelys hanging out at the sacred pyramid at Chichen Itza on the winter solstice, I’d be all Excuse me? Where were y’all when you could’ve helped us kick out those asshole conquistadors before they gave everyone syphilis?

As far as the purported chaos caused by the alignment of the earth, the sun and a black hole in the Milky Way known as the galactic equator, that’s been rejected unilaterally by the scientific community. E.C. Krupp, an astronomer and the director of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, wrote that “the rather arbitrary modern definition of the galactic equator” is impossible to come by since “there is no precise definition of the Milky Way’s edges—they are very vague and depend on the clarity of your view.”

The big brains at NASA also released a video last week, gently clarifying that the sun’s flares won’t be toasting our eyelashes off quite yet, and that if there actually was a rogue planet named Niburu tumbling towards us, we’d be able to see it in the sky by now. So much for astronomical drama.

Now, I am no cynic, I promise. I believe in just about everything, including probiotics, feng shui, crystal healing, the possibility of Bigfoot and the theory that Lee Harvey Oswald didn’t act alone. But I’ve also lived through several so–called apocalypses, including Y2K, when the world’s computer were supposed to disintegrate into one giant Hal, as well as 1984, which, in spite of containing a lot of big hair and Spandex, was far from Orwellian. I know what it’s like to party like it’s 1999 and then have to clean up the tequila bottles the next day and live with disappointment that you’re going to have to pay the damn bills after all.

Here’s what I think about the end of the world: We all secretly want it to happen. We see the evil patterns of war and violence, the environmental destruction and the subjugation of the weak and the poor around the globe and we wish it could all be erased. We’d all like a fresh start, another chance, a transformation that would eclipse our messes and bring us to a higher level where psychotic gunmen and the giant garbage swirl in the Pacific Ocean don’t exist anymore.

To paraphrase poet William Butler Yeats, there is no doubt that the hour has come round at last when humanity has reached the limits of what the planet can take and what we can take from the planet. Frankly, on our current course, we don’t appear to need any help from wayward astral bodies to bring about our own destruction.

Undeniable as well is the soul sickness that infects some with violent rage and others with comatose apathy.  We can place the blame on the assault weapons and the graphic video games and and the failure of the mental health support system in this country, but when are we going to figure out that blame doesn’t really fix anything?

What if the major shift advertised for 12/21/12 doesn’t mean that some rough beast is slouching towards Bethlehem to be born, ready to annihilate us? What if it isn’t something you can arm yourself against, because the problem — and the solution — lie within our own hearts?

Hunbatz Men and other spiritual masters teach that these are powerful times indeed, an opportunity to expand our consciousness, to become more forgiving and loving to others, to our world and to ourselves.

As this massive cycle winds down, we can choose to focus on regeneration and peaceful resolution as we navigate another giant turn along the arm of a cosmic spiral so grand we can hardly imagine it. We don’t need the sky to explode or the electricity to fail to bring about remarkable and positive effects. No more innocents need die in order for us to wake up to our own power.

To quote another wise elder who led a transformation of peace, Mahatma Gandhi, we can be the great change we want to see in the world, all by ourselves.

Nevertheless, I’ve still got a load of tequila and toilet paper stashed in the hall closet, just in case.