It’s the End of the World as We Know It
I’m an anthropologist by training, and a Latin Americanist at that, so I could hardly resist the opportunity to spend the “Mayan Apocalypse” in Mexico. All over the US folks have been fixating on December 21, 2012 for years. Countdown to the end of the world? There’s an app for that! End of the world sales? You bet! And don’t forget the stockpiles set aside by survivalists for just this occasion. But virtually no one north of the border is talking about what Mexicans have to say about the approaching date, marked on the Mayan calendar as 22.214.171.124.0.
I expected to see all kinds of fabulous theme events — “Party like it’s 126.96.36.199.0!” — or at least some over-the-top reporting on the news. Nada. So I’ve been asking people in Mexico what it means to them. The answers have been varied and a whole lot more nuanced than what we’ve been hearing in the US.
Here, no one is misinterpreting it as a doomsday event. Instead, many see it as an opportunity for a sort of cosmological resetting. An email circulated among Mexicans suggesting December 21st is a great time to go on a three-day electronics and media fast. 188.8.131.52.0 might also be trumping New Years in Mexico as the ideal time to reflect on the latest calendrical cycle and set fresh intentions for the next one. By the way, this last b’ak’tun, or long cycle, was 144,000 days long — almost 400 years — so they’d better make those resolutions good ones!
As for me, I’ll be embracing my bicultural roots, drinking a margarita at a Mayan theme bar while making my resolutions for this next b’ak’tun.