6 Reflections After the End of the World (Thanks, Mayans!)

The Mayan calendar’s “end” came and went last December 21st, seeing us through to the other side of what was prophesied as a great shift of the ages at best, and an apocalyptic fiery end of the world at worst. It appears that the latter has eluded us, for now, anyway, but what about the former? Have we made it through to the other side of some sort of planetary shift? And what comes next?

Like many people, I first heard of the Mayan calendar prophecy in the early aughts. It rang of Nostradamus-style predictions. And even though the date was in the very near future, it seemed more like light-years away, some futuristic place we’d never get to. And certainly, any sort of shift or world-ending catastrophe seemed to be a concept most unfathomable. While our impermanence is undeniable, it often also can feel unshakeable.

As we inched closer to the 2012 winter solstice, spiritual communities rallied. Events happened at the great pyramids of Giza and Chichen Itza. Books and films appeared that were focused not on the fantastical, but the entirely possible—the predictions, it seems, were ours to manifest into whatever future for our species we saw fit. Is a global consciousness shift happening in the world? Then it must be because we choose to make it so.

My own curiosity about living through what’s been considered the last great prophesied date, sent me and my partner into a retreat for the solstice. Huddled around a campfire at night staring up at the limitless sky, we took to Southern California’s Joshua Tree National Park to experience the galactic alignment, which just so happened to coordinate with the Mayan calendar’s End Date. The planets were in perfect formation. We could see Jupiter blazing and twinkling down from distances too far to truly imagine. It was easy to feel connected to the vast universe around and within us out there in the emptiness…but what now?

While momentum built for The Date, naysayers and critics pointed fingers and laughed, the world isn’t going to end, you fools. As if somehow we’d be disappointed in seeing another day dawn—which it did—the sun came up after the apocalypse and every day since. I reckon it’ll be noticeable for many more days to come, too.

What can we takeaway from this galactic event? Here are a few things I’ve learned:

1. A little story and magic never hurts: What was most wonderful about the end of the Mayan calendar was the myriad ways in which we interpreted it and made it our own. Was the world supposed to end? Is there a galactic shift happening? That’s for all of us to decide.

2. Staying present: We only ever have this moment. Just like we didn’t cease our 2013 plans due to the end of earth predictions, of course we must continue to act as though there’s a never-ending supply of tomorrows…but we can have a most healthy relationship when we focus on enjoying this precious, present moment to its fullest…at least until the next one comes along.

3. Let’s be more honest: We so often edit our thoughts, our feelings—and most times for good reason. We want to avoid hurting others or causing trouble. And that’s worthwhile. We can though learn to speak our truths, take responsibility for them, and still offer other people honest opportunities to explore the present moment and how our feelings and perceptions overlap. This happens when we are most honest and trusting of one another. If we want a world shift, we must learn to better trust each other.

4. Support: Trust and radical honesty make it easier to support each other and ourselves. Support is crucial in making changes. Whether we vow to support our bodies with healthier foods, our spirits with healthy practices like yoga and meditation, creativity and expression, or as a community—caring for each other, our children, our food system, our safety, our rights—support makes a difference in every path.

5. Change is always happening: The evolution will not be scheduled—it’s happening all the time. We are exactly who and where we’re supposed to be and our lives are constantly evolving. Waiting for something (or someone) to change is wasting precious time. See the evolving world and your own self-image in every moment and see if the world doesn’t change to your liking.

6. Good needs bad: Just days before December 21st, the tragedy in a Newtown, Connecticut grade school happened, shaking our nation to its core. While striving towards becoming a planet—a people—where these types of situations are a thing of the past, it’s also important to remember that, at least at this point in time (and throughout history), we need “bad” in order to understand and appreciate good. That’s not saying we should take up bad practices or treating others without respect, but observing it in the world can help us rise to be better people, and hopefully, help us to avert more crises.

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

Image: NASA