Barry Smith: Irrelativity
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado
It sucks, doesn’t it?
It sucks to be so very certain of something – like “The Bible Tells Me So” certain – and then be wrong.
I know this because I’ve been there myself. Twice.
Oh, I’ve been wrong about things a lot more than twice, sure, but twice in my life I was absolutely certain the world was gonna end. And both times I was wrong.
And not just wrong – I was WRONG!
The first time was in the early ’90s, when I was involved in a humble little doomsday religious cult. We were preparing for the Apocalypse, which we believed would take the form of a nuclear war. This would be followed by all the well-loved Biblical tragedies; gnashing of teeth, moon as dark as sackcloth, cries of agony and so forth. We were convinced that we had the truth – sorry, “THE TRUTH” – but we weren’t expecting a Rapture, which meant that we’d still be here on Earth after the Truth hit the fan. So rather than front-loading our efforts with billboards, as you did, we budgeted for follow-up pamphlets. We didn’t have quite the same coffers that you have, so these pamphlets were pretty ghetto. Yes, our plan to help the confused masses through the Apocalypse was to hand them a single-sheet, tri-fold, photocopied, clip-art illustrated pamphlet.
“Oh,” they’d say, marveling at its earnest simplicity, “so THAT’S why blood is running through the streets as high as a horse’s bridle. That’s very helpful. Thanks.”
We did have a few specific dates as to when this Apocalypse would go down, but they were soft dates. Sure, there was that one big one scheduled for November, but when nothing happened it was just taken as a reminder that the REAL date was “When God’s Ready.”
But He’d be ready soon. The Bible told us so.
After a few years of waiting for this to happen, it started to dawn on me that maybe, just maybe, these people were wrong. And so was I. I left the comforting, Apocalypse-centric arms of my cozy little cult, wallowed in my wrongness for a while, then enjoyed a few years of panic-free living.
Until I heard about Y2K.
You remember all those Y2K nutjobs, right? The people who were saying that every computer in the world would fail on Jan 1, 2000? And to prepare for the meltdown these loonies were buying gold and silver and guns and ammo and lots of tuna and dried beans? Remember that? Ever wonder who those losers were?
Well … guilty.
Guilty, and wrong. Wrong again. But this time it wasn’t The Bible telling me so, it was pure logic and reason. It was math. It was my intuition and my intellect (?) and my deep, deep sense of knowing. And I was wrong, wrong, wrong.
Good thing I like tuna.
So I know what it’s like to have the rug pulled out from under you. I know what it’s like to use all the tools at your disposal to make a decision, only to have your conclusion be absolutely one hundred and eighty degrees from what actually is true.
At first, anyway. But it’s kind of exhilarating, too, right? Maybe you’re feeling this right now. That full-body rush of wrong. That utterly all-engrossing wave of cluelessness. It’s good, it’s good – just breathe. It’s like hitting your own personal reset button. Better things will come from it, I promise, it just may take a while for you to see it. We’ve all been there in some way, even those of us who’ll be making fun of you because the world didn’t end – they’ve been deeply, profoundly and disorientingly wrong about things, too. Big things. At the moment they’re just too busy feeling smug to admit it.
For once, I’ll not be joining them in the superiority happy dance. Even though I may not agree with the Bible or the preachers and doomsayers who predicted this latest final chapter, I know what it’s like to be a person who gets fully caught up in it.
And it sucks.
However, because of deadline scheduling, I’m actually writing this BEFORE the predicted final day. So for all I know, the world DID end over the weekend, and I’m once again wrong, wrong, wrong.
Ahhhh … I love the smell of wrong in the morning.
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