Archive for Wednesday, December 27, 2000

What if?’ Question leads to resolution

December 27, 2000

I've yet to drink all the bottled water that I stowed away last year, in
preparation for the end of the world. I only half-believed that the year
2000 would bring disaster and even that fifty percent was split between
disaster intrigue and a pompous "bring it on Y2K" attitude. My sensible self
predicted that, as shown, nothing would go wrong. But, just to be festive, I
bought some "extra" bottles of drinking water. I collected a few backup
batteries, and invested in an underground shelter. Now in the anticlimactic
wake, the batteries are gone, lost in corners of rooms seldom cleaned (my
own), and as I said, the drinking water is waiting on a tornado or a flood
or a tsunami. The shelter's been converted into a pool, forty-six laps back
and forth equals one hundred meters.

As I reflect upon last year's hoarding, spending, repenting, and the day
after, when the cars still ran, the computers still performed, and the
bottled water companies laughed all the way to the bank, I am reminded of a
very important human need. Humans need a few small apocalypses to keep
themselves in check. Even mere rumor of doomsday is enough. I doubt that
there was a sober soul in all of the world that during the last seconds of
1999 didn't swear to their maker that "if, just if, my electronic
navigation system works tomorrow, I will spend more time with my kids," or
something along those lines. I know I swore. I swore that "if, just if, the
sun rises tomorrow, I'll read more, I'll do crunches, I'll tell my parents I
love them more often," and I have. This year's been productive, I've traded
the pages of Sports Illustrated for Emily Dickinson and I've had to buy new
pants twice.

We all need to have our shoulder angel and shoulder devil meet between the
ears for a brawl once in a while. We need to hear ourselves say, "if, just
if," and then hear what follows.

This year, the threats are played down, whether by science or logic or the
fact that most of us are still prepared. This year, disaster is downgraded
to resolution, which we are very good at. "I resolve to exercise more," "I
resolve to spend less," "I resolve to learn each state's capital," "I
resolve to tell my parents I love them more often." Now, as in years past, we
are faced with a more certain future. The "Armageddon Handbook" no longer
sells more copies than "Harry Potter." Santa didn't give out generators and
kerosene stoves for Christmas. Oprah is back to finding her spirit instead
of finding the Y2K checklist, and, after the presidential race, Americans
feel that they can live through anything.

This year we are back to champagne and confetti, noisemakers and kisses,
through with fear and hoarding and repentance for a life without occasional
scare. This year the world will watch the ball drop without wondering if the
sky will fall along with it. Then, to the beat of "Auld Lang Syne" we'll
take our shoes off, throw our socks to the wind, and jump into our converted
shelter pools and remember that year when the world said, "if, just if."

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