Books, magazines, and the airwaves are resonating with speculations about the end of the Mayan calendar within the context of Mayan cosmology, new age beliefs, Christian revelations of the end of times, and historical apocalyptic predictions. For me, the key word in the previous sentence is "speculations." The bottom line is that no one knows for sure what-if anything-will happen in five years at the time of the winter solstice in 2012.
As a history major I know that since the beginning of recorded history, artificial calendar endings, as well as actual events such as comets, have been heralded as portents of great change. These changes can bring either chaos and calamity or opportunities for new beginnings, depending upon who is making the predictions.
Predictions of gloom and doom generally predominate, probably because nothing is quite as pervasive and infectious as fear. And time after time people panic, and as the eleventh hour approaches they gather in fearful crowds awaiting disaster. Time after time nothing happens. I personally know of an intelligent man who was convinced the end was near in the mid 1990s, so he abandoned his family and sold his business to await the end. Of course, the end he was expecting never came. Oh, he did lose almost everything-his medical practice, his family, and his property. But he did so because of his own ill-conceived actions. In a recent internet search, I discovered that he is still very much alive, and he is back in business with a new wife.
I was, of course, a personal witness to the world’s most highly-touted impending apocalypse-Y2K, the simultaneous end of the 20th century and the second millennium AD. The media did its very best to spread fear and panic worldwide with predictions of economic collapse, terrorist attacks and political unrest. Nevertheless, as millions sat glued to their television sets with one ear cocked for imminent sirens, the dreaded event passed peacefully in a wave of worldwide joyous celebrations.
It is, of course, possible that THIS time the end really is upon us. The evidence to support such speculations is rampant-catastrophic natural disasters; the insidious erosion of our civil rights; an unstable economy; and the sad fact that we continue to kill each other in staggering numbers, both individually and in mass slaughters called war. We are now even using our technology-ironically touted as evidence of our "progress"-to kill the planet Earth herself, without whom none of us can survive. The world does, indeed, seem to be going to hell in a hand basket. The end could be nigh.
For me, however, the significance of the end of Mayan calendar lies in the unprecedented opportunity for new beginnings. I choose to give credence to the new age belief that between Harmonic Convergence in 1987 and the winter solstice of 2012, we have been given an unprecedented gift of divine energy that creates the opportunity for spiritual growth and a thorough housecleaning of self-destructive beliefs and behaviors.
I don’t intend to waste this precious gift of energy on "same old, same old" patterns. I refuse to continue harboring the same old disempowering thoughts; settling for painful, dysfunctional relationships; surrendering to limiting fears; or recycling through stuck emotions.
We acknowledge that the present is shaped by the past, but we often overlook our ability to shape the present from the future. For me the key significance of the end of the Mayan calendar is its ability to motivate and inspire us to pursue personal growth and healing with a deep, earnest commitment. We can set our intent to create a better world and then allow our daily decisions during the next five years to be guided by the desire to achieve that future goal. If we are to survive, we must open our minds and hearts to embrace the highest and the best of human potential-wisdom, compassion, unconditional love and forgiveness.
If we don’t start now, we might awaken the morning after a non-eventful winter solstice in 2012 and find that, due to our own ill-conceived actions, it has become too late to prevent the end of times.