Our society has always been hypervigilant about emergency preparedness, however, is there a survival kit available for losing one's own sense of perspective? We're all told that if there is an emergency situation we're supposed to run right out and buy batteries, water, milk, bread and duct tape because apparently that is all we need to survive. Without fail, every winter the meteorologist mentions the word snow and we all jump like lemmings at the chance to do our best impressions of a person in sheer panic raiding the stores of anything and everything. Even the mere mention of "vaccination shortages" leaves people who were never planning on getting a vaccination in the first place making a crazed dash to their local drugstore to sleep on the doorstep in order to be first in line.
The latest fear of course was the "swine flu," a raging pandemic we should apparently all have been concerned about. People were afraid to go outside, schools were closed, and some had even stopped eating pork, even though it isn't a foodborne illness. Unfortunately for our gene pool, these hyperreactive people haven't yet considered stopping their breathing, even though swine flu actually IS an airborne illness. I guess that would be ridiculous though since air is essential to living. Well I would argue that perspective and intelligence is also essential to living, yet I am continually proven wrong time and time again simply by taking a look at the general population. The definition of a pandemic according to Merriam-Webster is "occurring over a wide geographic area and affecting an exceptionally high proportion of the population." Surely at this point we can classify widespread paranoia (with stupidity as a secondary infection) as the worst pandemic this planet has seen to date.
In 1997 I just barely escaped destruction by the Hale-Bopp comet. Unfortunately, that was also the year I became lactose intolerant.What I find most interesting about your average high-strung paranoid person is their ultimate ability to live in the here and now. For instance they are always SO CONCERNED with the latest snowstorm, heavy rainfall, yearly flu virus, or whatever end of the world scenario they're spoonfed by the nightly news. Yet their selective memories force them to forget the previous 7,000 times the news sensationalized the mundane and yet they managed to survive the actual mediocrity regardless. Furthermore, there have been countless predictions of future apocalypses foretold (with equal inane validity) which would really make death by swine flu an easy way out in comparison if you think about it. It is just so counterintuitive to me because you would think that if they had the single-mindedness to focus only on the present, then that would preclude them from acting like crazed lunatics whenever the media is hungry for ratings. This inherent selective amnesia and ability to ignore future insane paranoia should make these people prime candidates for living in the moment in a Zen-like fashion.
The fact that I am still breathing actually boggles the mind and defies all reason when you think about it. You see, I have survived countless foretold apocalyptic horrors to date and the fact that I am actually alive to write this at all is simply mind-blowing.
In 1982 I survived The Jupiter Effect, which postulated that a planetary conjunction would cause earthquakes and a solar flare. The actual result of the gravitational pull of all the planets combined was a higher tide measured in some places, peaking at 0.04mm above average. Boy did I feel silly for buying extra water THAT day.
In 1986 I survived the prophesized collision of Halley's Comet with Earth, but that was a close one for sure. I was sweating bullets as it came within a mere 62,831,160 kilometers (39,041,472 miles) of Earth. Little did I know this was to be just my first comet collision survival.
In 1988 I survived the interpretation of the Book of Matthew's second coming of Christ, foretold as being 40 years from the formation of Israel. I attribute my purchase of extra bread to that survival because as you know bread is supposedly his body and thus I speculate he was unable to take form due to the shortage I created.
In 1992 I survived The Rapture, which I later found out wasn't the end of the world after all, as Rollen Stewart had predicted, but was really the Church of England responding to all alter boys' pleas for help and voting to allow women to become priests.
In 1997 I just barely escaped destruction by various means. Not only was it the 6000th anniversary of the Creation, but the Hale-Bopp comet apparently had a UFO trailing it—not to mention that the Solar System was passing through a mysterious and entirely imaginary region of space called the Photon Belt. I truly felt alive that year. Unfortunately, that was also the year I became lactose intolerant. I didn't want to throw out all the extra milk I had bought in preparation and I think my body just naturally responded to drinking 34 gallons of milk by shunning it for all time.
Then just next year, in 1998, I survived another second coming predicted by Hon-Ming Chen, leader of the Taiwanese cult "The True Way," which claimed that God would announce his imminent return on every television in the USA, prior to an actual landing in his spacecraft. Again the bread; never underestimate the power of buying bread in apocalyptic times.
In 1999 I had several more near misses with death. Nostradamus predicted the end of days in July which I narrowly escaped. That was followed almost immediately by the prediction that the Cassini space probe would crash to Earth, spilling its radioactive fuel and fulfilling the prediction in Revelation 8:11—but my water wouldn't be tainted and bitter because I had plenty of Deer Park on hand.
In 2000 I thwarted the predictions of none other than Sir Isaac Newton, who believed this would be the year told of in the book of Revelations. Imagine my elation when I realized that I was indeed Y2K compliant.
In 2004 many predicted that the tsunami was the start of the end of days. Yet again, another instance where purchasing extra water left me feeling a bit foolish.
In 2006 I escaped the predictions of Clinton Ortiz that Prince William, the Antichrist of Revelation, would come to power. This was also the year that I lived through June 6, 2006 (666) without bursting into flames. This time I admit that the extra water seemed prudent given the risk of spontaneous combustion.
In 2008 a minor Christian sect called The Lords' Witnesses predicted our lives would end. I dodged that bullet by wrapping myself entirely in duct tape. It seemed like a good idea at the time, facing the end of the world, but the removal of the duct tape made me wish I hadn't survived.
Those were just the big "near misses" too; there were countless others that just seemed silly to mention in comparison, but rest assured each and every year there were numerous end of the world predictions that I thwarted. To date I have also survived multiple human-race-ending prime time news pandemics (knock on wood) including, AIDS, SARS, Avian Flu, EBOLA, Flesh Eating disease, MRSA, VRE, MDR-TB, Ecoli O157, Anthrax, Meningitis and now Swine Flu. Not to mention all the minor health scares reported by the media I have managed to somehow survive, including, but not limited to: lead paint, mercury fillings, fluoridated water, BPA water bottles, Teflon pans, nitrates in cured meats, Autism from vaccines, phthalates in my rubber ducky, diet soda, spinach, peanut butter and the list goes on and on (and continues to grow daily).
So clearly I am thankful to simply be alive because I am easily the luckiest person on the planet—except for everyone else still alive, but who's counting. Amid all this paranoia and cataclysm I attribute my amazing survival skills to my perspective and ability to keep a level head. I have surmounted impossible odds and dodged more extinction events than ever imaginable, just by employing good old-fashioned common sense. You may be wondering what I'm planning to do with my continued new lot in life. Well the answer is easy: NOTHING, because the world is going to end when the long count calendar of the ancient Mayans ends on December 21, 2012, so I really don't see the point anymore.
(In the interest of full disclosure, this was actually written over two months ago but wasn't submitted because of striking similarities to a piece written at the same time by a certain like-minded writer. I finally decided that two months is enough time for PIC short-term memory failure. If you can't remember the other piece I'm talking about, you'll probably agree.)