Death, Rebirth and the Dixie Chicks

The Dixie Chicks (from left, Emily Robison, Natalie Maines and Martie Maguire). Photo by J. Emilio Flores for The New York Times
The Dixie Chicks (from left, Emily Robison, Natalie Maines and Martie Maguire). Photo by J. Emilio Flores for The New York Times

The night before the “end of the world” was an event that snowballed into an evening of silly apocalyptic confessions claiming they “let the dogs out,” interesting pictures of “raptured people,” and comments about how the Mayans were terrible at predicting their own demise. A slew of “doomsday” parties were thrown for no other reason than to drink, and gullible idiots had panic attacks in their makeshift bunkers.

It’s December 21, 2012 today and we’re all still here (as expected), but in the midst of apocalyptic nonsense, last night got me thinking about what I would do if I actually knew when the world was going to end, and about the Mayans’ cyclical view of time.

The common Mesoamerican calendars were cyclical in concept and followed the recurrence and renewal of death-rebirth imagery found in their mythological traditions. Similar to the ways of nature, time for the Mayans were analogous to The Lion King’s explanation of the circle of life. Everything in the universe begins, and then ends, giving way for new life to sprout from the remains of those that came before them.

If anything, thinking about the end of the world reminded me that time goes on even after we are all dead, and that we should live our lives to the best of our abilities while we’re here on the earth. Rather than freaking out in a poorly made underground bunker with enough food and ammo to fuel a small army, if the world were to end today, we should go about our daily lives the way we would want to live them. You don’t have to drop all your responsibilities and spend all of your life savings in Jamaica, but when a reasonable opportunity arises in your everyday life, you should go ahead and take it thinking positively about the next moments that you will have on the earth, and not dwelling on all of the terrible moments of the past.

This may sound cheesy, but when my sister turned on her music this morning and the Dixie Chicks’ song, Wide Open Spaces, began to play, I was able to really understand this perspective of exploring new opportunities. I really listened to the chorus and tried applying the story of the song in to my own life.

There are times in our lives when we just need to try something new and make a change. We leave our past where it belongs, with the knowledge that it does shape us and make us who we are, but that it doesn’t dictate all of the choices that we make in our future. We aim for the upcoming moments while remember those people in our lives who mean the most to us, and we try our best to live our lives to the fullest, not because the world is ending and you think you’re going to be damned to hell, but because our time on earth goes by in the blink of an eye, and when your life does flash before your eyes right before you die, you want it to be something worth watching.

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