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Danny's Reading: What is important?

Average: 3.9 (14 votes)

Herbert W. Armstrong, John Roe, William M. Branham, Leland Jensen, Hal Lindsey, Chuck Smith, John Gribbin, Benjamin Creme and Harold Camper… all names you’ve probably never heard before. And yet this assorted collection of idiots and intellectuals - plus another hundred or so that I’ve left out to ensure that you actually make it past this first paragraph without banging your head repeatedly against the nearest wall in frustration - all have one thing in common…

They all predicted the end of the world.

Some of them three or four times, because making a complete and utter fool of yourself, on a global scale, just once a lifetime is simply not enough for some. Apparently.

I don’t wish to brag, but I have survived the end of the world sixty-six times since 1973, the year that I was born. The cause of my supposed death - and that of everyone else on the planet - has included nuclear destruction, the gravitational forces of aligned planets, numerous Raptures, Halley’s Comet whacking into the earth, alien invasion, asteroid impact, the Y2K computer bug, war and a ‘zombie apocalypse’, which, needless to say, is my personal favourite.

To be honest, I was quite looking forward to that one. Blame Hollywood.

And now, we’re due to go ‘whoomph’ – or possibly ‘splat’ – sometime between the 20th and the 23rd of December this year. This time around, the apocalypse will be caused by galactic alignment, or a giant supernova, or geomagnetic reversal, or possibly a collision with a planet called Nibiru. Or, once again, alien invasion. And so the world will end.

Except that it won’t. Galactic alignment has happened plenty of times before, and we’re still here. The closest supernova candidate is 150 light years away, and it has been calculated that several million years will have to pass before it can build up the strength to affect us. According to NASA, Nibiru, also known as Planet X because it sounds cooler, doesn’t actually exist, despite claims by a certain Nancy Lieder, who insisted that she had received messages about it from aliens via an implant in her brain. Obviously.

And so on and so forth.

All of these doomsday prophecies and predictions of Armageddon serve absolutely no purpose whatsoever.

Except, perhaps, for one.

They force us to reevaluate our lives. They make us ask ourselves – if this is my last year on the planet, how do I want to live it?

What is important?

And I have come to the conclusion, after much deep thought and ‘at-one-with-the-universe’ kind of pondering, that in the big picture, most of the things that we deem to be important are, in fact, not.

The world will spin on with or without us. It’s not about the end of the world – it’s about the end of us. And if the world should blow up one morning into a billion smithereens, then we won’t really care, on account of not having anything left to care about, or for, or with. So, the total annihilation of everything is not important. In fact, what I’m having for dinner tonight is twelve billion times more important. Mainly because I’m the one who’s cooking it.

In short, it’s the small things that matter. Not the sinking of the Titanic, but the random comment of one lookout to the other as they were heading to their posts, which distracted him enough to leave his binoculars on his bunk when he should have had them with him, which resulted in the iceberg remaining unseen until it was much too late to do anything about it. Not the Mona Lisa, but the person who gave Leonardo his first paintbrush and said “See what you can do with this.” Not the end of the world, but the journey we’re on to get there, one tiny step at a time.

It’s the small things that are important. Let the end of the world come if it has to, but until then, I’m going to be paying attention to the details.

Last Christmas, I bought myself a new camera – purely because I wanted one – and for no reason other than because I thought it might be interesting, I decided to take a single photo for every day of 2012. Of anything that catches my eye. It doesn’t have to be artistic, or even interesting. To give you an example of what I mean, I made chocolate mousse on the first of January. And I took a photo of it. On the sixteenth, I cooked steak for dinner, and I have the picture to prove it. And on the twenty-third, as I was walking to work at about seven thirty in the morning, a group of English tourists decided to have an early morning dip in a sea that must’ve been freezing. Their shivering, and insanity, is trapped in my camera too.

Random pictures of non-events, but pictures that make one day different from the next. And the strange thing – the cool thing – is that when I look at the picture of chocolate mousse, I don’t just see the mousse, but I see my children eating it, their faces covered in it as they sit at the kitchen table making one hell of a hilarious mess. The steak dinner; I cooked that for our anniversary – thirteen years of marriage – and when I look at the picture it takes me back to the sixteenth of January 1999. My wife had a steak that day too, at about two o’ clock in the morning, having been too busy posing for wedding photos to actually eat anything off the buffet tables. And looking at the nutty English tourists leaping into the sea in the middle of winter under a grey sky reminds me of when I was much younger, and nuttier, and used to challenge the elements in a similar fashion, just because I could.

Things don’t just catch my eye anymore. I’m actively looking out for them. All those small things that have been there all along, rendered invisible by my taking them for granted. Suddenly, accidentally, I’ve discovered a whole new universe right where it always was.

Pay attention to the small things, because the big things will take care of themselves, whether you want them to or not.

One day the world will end. One day, aliens from Planet X will turn us all into zombies and send us hurtling into the sun as the planets align and our electromagnetic fields invert and we go ‘whoomph’ (or ‘splat’).

So what? Today you’re here. Keep smiling, because you never know…

… I might just take your picture.

It’s a small thing. See what you can do with it.

By Danny
Danny's been teaching at EC Malta English school for 10 years