Saturday, 22 December 2012

Ah well, it's not the end of the world

It’s wonderful how moments of high drama steal up on you, catching you unawares, springing out when you least expect them and overwhelming you with their scale and general awesomeness.

That’s how it was yesterday. The day dawned clear and bright; it was cold but not unbearably so, well above freezing, and walking the dog was pleasant.

There was of course a sense of ominous foreboding in the air, butI coped with it as best I could.

At lunch, the day continued pleasant and untroubled. Nothing untoward during the second dog walk of the day but obviously this could only be the calm before the storm. I was, however, finding it increasingly difficult to sustain any sense of dread. Complacency was setting in, and what could be more dangerous?

Infuriatingly, as it does at this time of year, the sun took its leave at around 4:00. Four o’clock? How can that be nightfall? It isn't even late afternoon.

Now that should have been the sign for things to turn seriously sinister, but all I could work up was a sense of mild irritation at the bad behaviour of December. Not smart if, as I said, catastrophe doesn’t necessarily announce itself hours in advance. It sneaks and takes you when you least expect it. By the evening, I was as vulnerable as one could be to sudden, massive cataclysmic events.

That’s it. The scene was set. Bring it on.

And that was precisely the moment when absolutely nothing happened. I turned in. I fell asleep. I woke up again when Danielle got home from the outstanding Christmas Party she’d organised for her colleagues. And then I slept through till this morning, when I woke up to pretty much uninterrupted rain, with standing water everywhere and rivers bursting their banks.

So what happened to the catastrophe prophesied for yesterday? The end of the world those self-appointed interpreters of Mayan calendars had announced for 21 December? Had I missed something?

The Mayan inscription that created
all the fuss in the first place

I did check up a bit on all that Mayan stuff. As it happens yesterday was just the end of the thirteenth toucan (it’s not really called that, but I can remember toucan and I can’t remember Baktun. I to do what I toucan). The way the Mayans saw it, the end of a cycle is also the beginning of the next cycle – it’s numbered zero. 

So what happened yesterday, and was always going to happen, wasn’t the end of the world but just the end of one era and the start of another. But that’s not as exciting a message as ‘it’s all coming to an end’, is it?

It’s a relief, of course. It means I can get on with griping about the crappy weather and the miserable days. But more importantly, instead of associating 21 December with some kind of calamity, it is the occasion of an excellent party for Danielle’s hospital department: zumba, karaoke, huge quantities of Indian food, dancing, smiles and laughter the whole evening through.

Danielle's colleagues showed how to mark the day of dread
Definitely not the end of world there
And, of course, there was the the solstice. The point at which, for this year, the days stop getting shorter, at least in this hemisphere (sorry, Australia). Proving the good old Mayans’ point: the end of one cycle is just the start of a new one. Day by day, the light will be lasting a touch longer. In two or three weeks, the difference will be appreciable. In a a couple of months we’ll be surging ahead.

Back towards the Spring. Bet the Mayans knew how to celebrate that.

No comments: