If you believe the ancient Mayans were clairvoyant or possessed magical powers, then you believe they predicted the world is going to end on Dec. 21. If you’re like me, though, you believe this is bunk, like the other predictions that the end of the world is nigh.
Thing 1 (the 12-year-old) is like me. She doesn’t believe the Mayans or anyone else has predicted the apocalypse, but, also like me when I was a kid, she thinks it’s spooky when her friends keep talking about it.
When I was a kid in the ’70s, I knew a lot of kids whose parents were evangelicals who believed the world was going to end in the 1980s, because that’s what it said in a book and movie (mostly a movie, because these people didn’t read) called “The Late, Great Planet Earth.” I think they talked about the book (or maybe just the movie) in church.
I remember once, when I was in 5th grade, someone was telling a story, and I said, “What’s the world coming to?” It was a rhetorical question, but this one girl answered, anyway. “The end!” she said, smugly.
I understand exactly how unsettling and annoying it can be when people, especially your classmates, talk about the apocalypse, so I decided it was time to have a father-daughter chat.
I explained that the world wasn’t going to end on Dec. 21. It didn’t end in the ’80s, it didn’t end on May 21, 2011, despite what all those billboards said, and it’s not going to end a few days before Christmas.
It’s going to end in 7.6 billion years, which is when scientists believe the sun will become what’s called a “red giant” and swallow the Earth in its fiery maw.
Some scientists think the Earth’s orbit may simply shift further out into space, but it’s likely that a larger, hotter sun will have evaporated every living thing on the planet long before that happens.
I told my girl my point was that when the world really does end, we won’t be around to see it, and there’s a good chance the human race will be extinct, so there’s no point in worrying.
Thing 1 thought about this for a moment then said, “You’re weird,” then started texting her friends.
I’m glad I could be there for her.