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  • Writer's pictureTodd Stevens

End of the World

It’s happening once more, the world is spiraling towards another global cataclysm at an alarming rate, troops on the move, thinly veiled threats, and saber rattling everywhere…world war three is in plain view on the horizon. Maybe this is the end of the world…again.

When I was young and about to bring home a report card full of d’s and f’s, and I knew the punishment that was about to be handed out, it felt like the end of the world to me. Nothing else entered my mind but the next hour, I couldn’t see beyond it.

I had a high school girlfriend, I loved her, maybe not with the same completeness that I love now, but with all I had in me at the time. One day she called me with bad news. She was moving far away, and we wouldn’t be able to see each other all the time anymore. I couldn’t see past it, there was no horizon beyond, it was the end of the world as I knew it.

I was twenty nine years old, stumbling out of the woods, unimaginable pain stabbing like electric ice picks through my eye and brain, blood soaking my shirt, and I knew I’d never see out of my left eye again. I couldn’t see past that moment, couldn’t grasp how my life would ever get back to normal, it was the end of the world.

I was about thirty one years old, had three young children, every atom in my body was only interested in the future of that family, and seeing those kids grow into adulthood healthy, and feeling love. I didn’t…couldn’t, see beyond that family, and my future with that family. But one day it was over, and I was lost like a cork in the middle of the ocean. I couldn’t see past the calamity that had befallen my vision, my dream, my everything, it was the end of the world.

I stood at the memorial for my beautiful young niece, buried way too young, it was the end of her earthly world. The agony that we experienced after she was gone felt like the end of the world. God awful, gut wrenching pain that felt impossible to move past, like another end of the world event.

After each of these things I experienced, and after each global event, WWI, WWII, 9/11, Vietnam, the holocaust, tsunamis, earthquakes, fires, and floods, people stood shivering in the cold, or baking in the heat with nothing more than the clothes on their back, and the will to survive. I’m sure they thought it was the end of the world too, but slowly, surely, one step at a time people inch forward, they move on, and the tragedy that befell them, someday, will be a footnote, like Pompeii, or…a blinded eye.

None of these things were the absolute end of the world, either for me, or for those who have experienced the things I’ve written about in this little blurb. However, each of us have to come to terms with the fact that our own personal end of the world is coming. I’m 57 years old, and would like to believe that I’ll see a healthy 85 or beyond, but there are no guarantees. Even perfect health won’t stop a car accident, a natural disaster, a war, or any of the other million ways to go that are too numerous to list here.

With the knowledge that we all have of our ultimate end of the world, maybe instead of obsessing over things beyond our control, we should focus on those we have some small measure of say in? A lingering moment with our children, or grandchildren. Maybe we can take that extra few seconds enjoying the coffee shop, or staring at the stars, or walking barefoot on the beach, or reading that book, or praying…

The world will go on one way or the other, and in 120 years or so, when every single person alive on the earth as I write this, has passed away, the people of that new generation will be facing brand new, end of the world, events. Hopefully they can take a few minutes before it ends and pet a dog, or smell a flower, or smile.

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