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How the world didn’t end

How the world didn’t end

by Wolf Pascoe on December 24, 2012

Xmas-TreeWhen I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers … so many caring people in this world.

— Mister Rogers

A few years ago an elderly aunt of mine had a heart attack while driving on a busy street. She was 90, reasonably fit and lucid, and somehow despite the squeezing in her chest she got the car out of traffic and over to the side of the road, where she pulled to a stop and died.

That’s the story. She waited until she’d safely parked her car before dying.

I tell this because it happened, and because it’s probably the most remarkable thing I know about my aunt, who was an ordinary woman. Most stories of helping are of this sort. Not flashy. A bit of kindness. A momentary regard for others.

Mr. Rogers is right. In times of disaster we need stories of caring. The more ordinary the better.




If you’re reading this it means the world did not end on the 21st of December, an ending said by some with imperfect knowledge to have been predicted by the Mayan calendar.

I would love to know how these rumors start.

Nostradamus also is said to have prophesied the end of the world, or something like it. A friend of mine who knew a thing or two believed that Nostradamus could see into the future, but that he’d tuned into a Godzilla movie.


The Mayan people, by the way, are still with us. They don’t have their empire anymore, but some of them still consult their calendar. To be sure, there are seventeen Mayan Calendars, and the one in question reset itself this weekend, as it does every 26,000 years or so, when the solar meridian crosses the galactic equator.

I take such matters on faith, but it’s a better story than the end of the world, and it’s somewhat borne out by our having made it through the weekend.

Which brings us tonight to Christmas Eve.




Two years ago I discovered the Norad Santa Tracker and showed Nick an animated graphic of Santa’s progress.

“So he’s real then,” Nick, eight at the time, said. That seemed to settle the matter.

This year we didn’t talk about Santa. We talked about Sandy Hook, which made it more believable that we’d come to the end of the world.

Like many of us, I can’t get despair out of my head. I’m having a hard time focusing lately. I feel woolly, and this world doesn’t seem the same as the lamb-white one I remember growing up in.

But of course it is, with sweetness still, and the lamb-white-seeming world of my youth just as dark and troubled as the current one.

And now I find that we’ve crossed the galactic equator and how are prospects looking for the next 26,000 years?

How are they looking today?




For some reason, it’s been hard with Nick recently, the two of us constantly butting heads. It’s when I find myself desperate to set him straight that I know I’m already lost. Before I set the limit, I’d better find my heart.

“Find your heart, and you will find your way,” said a Mayan elder, speaking about the transition of the Mayan calendar to a new age.

That’s the prospect. That’s the news. The world is still here and it’s Christmas eve. Find you’re heart and you’ll find your way.

If you have a story of caring, I wish you’d tell it here.



This just in: Bless us everyone



Perhaps it is broken, the cover of your diadem […], darkness collar […]?  A strange, difficult and haunting essay about the Maya, civilization, and loss, among other things.




Just Add Father is listening. (Add your thoughts by clicking a few lines below below, where it says comments or add one. I always respond here.)


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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

pamela December 28, 2012 at 4:21 pm

Wow. This is breathtaking. I too thought the Mayans were just off by a week. Thank you for setting me straight by finding your heart. Sweetness everywhere. We had a Christmas party for my husband’s wardroom, i.e. 20 young Navy engineers who each brought a gift to send to one of their colleagues who just left for Afghanistan. Socks, waterproof notebooks, cookies, peanut butter, cards, pounds of chocolate, pepper, and salt. I used to think soldiers were these crazy, violent people, but I was very, very wrong.


Wolf Pascoe December 29, 2012 at 12:15 am

“Paradox, full of is the world,” said Yoda. Or should have.


Barbara December 28, 2012 at 6:15 pm

“Find your heart and you will find your way.” So simple but true. I love the story of your aunt. There aren’t many stories of caring that can top that one simple act. I wasn’t worried about the end of the world rumor. I figure when it ends, it ends, and no sense getting all in a panic. My world could end tomorrow, or later today, and that’s the end I need to prepare for. I share your ‘woolly’ feeling, though, but I also agree that the world is still white and innocent somewhere, and for that I give thanks.
Wishing you tons of blessings in 2013!


Wolf Pascoe December 28, 2012 at 6:44 pm

A land not mine, still
forever memorable,
the waters of its ocean
chill and fresh.

Sand on the bottom whiter than chalk,
and the air drunk, like wine,
late sun lays bare
the rosy limbs of the pinetrees.

Sunset in the ethereal waves:
I cannot tell if the day
is ending, or the world, or if
the secret of secrets is inside me again.

— Anna Akhmatova


BigLittleWolf December 28, 2012 at 6:54 pm

The world doesn’t seem like the same place it was 15 days ago, or 15 years ago, much less in our childhoods which extended for a longer period than any childhood today.

I wonder if every generation has their moments of a kind of interior breaking, fissures followed by the wooliness you describe.

I imagine my mother and father had Pearl Harbor Day and also, the horrors of Hiroshima albeit from the distance of the US. We had our adolescent naieveté shredded by Vietnam.

What human beings rain down on others can be so evil I suppose all we can do is try to find the simple acts of good, of quiet sacrifice.

But it feels harder. There are no illusions left.


Wolf Pascoe December 29, 2012 at 12:11 am

Act as if the work depends on you. Pray as if it depends on God.
And from the Pirkei Avot, “It is not incumbent upon you to complete the work, but neither are you at liberty to desist from it.”


The Exception January 4, 2013 at 6:21 pm

It is all a matter of perspective with each moment being a chance for a new beginning or an ending.
I did think about the world ending but it didn’t bother me as I was one of those children that was constantly aware of the potential of war, world ending, life changing irreversibly – my career was built on the notion that I could contribute to the minimizing of such things happening (and remains so to date). In the end, I have learned to work to stay at peace in my heart and then… it is what it is.


Wolf Pascoe January 6, 2013 at 12:03 am

There is no way to peace. Peace is the way. — Thích Nhất Hạnh


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