I first heard about the Mayan calendar when I was in college over twenty years ago. Shirley Maclaine was in the news at the time, promoting her new book "Out on a Limb." It was quickly filmed as a made for TV movie, which included some location shooting in Peru, and more discussion on the Mayan calendar. "Out on a Limb" is the story of Maclaine's journey toward metaphysical beliefs which began in California at the Bhodi Tree bookstore. There, according to her legend, a book fell on her head, which seemed of interest to her, and sparked her journey away from organized religion toward a world view that embraced all sorts of New Age teachings.
Like a lot of people who are eager to define themselves as "spiritual" in lieu of "religious" Maclaine really mixed it up. From the Mayans she grabbed the idea that time could be measured differently than the standard calendar. The Mayan calendar was unique in that it was based on eclipses, and was therefore more accurate than the conventional solar based calendar, or the traditional lunar based calendar. The Mayan calendar was created thousands of years ago, and it ends December 21, 2012.
There was a disaster movie made about the possible prophecy that the world will end when the calendar ends. I don't know of any specific prophecy that says the world will end. People have surmised that due to the calendar ending. What is a little far fetched about that, is our own solar calendars end on a yearly basis. Rather than getting tribal and crazy and upset, most people simply purchase another calendar. One might note that the Mayans as a subculture seem to have died out. While people of Mayan descent remain, they don't seem to speak their language nor live traditionally. So if the world was going to end, one might argue, it already has for the Mayan people.
Nonetheless, it isn't a bad a idea to consider the world ending. Christians do it all the time. I had a pastor who claimed to have figured out exactly what day the "rapture" was, and eagerly awaited being swept up with Jesus. He was an Assembly of God pastor. I had friends of the Jehovah's witness belief who believed the world was ending imminently, back in the 1970's. For that reason they avoided going to school and saving money and making plans. "Live in the Now!" they were counseled. Few of them chose to save for retirement.
What would You do differently if you knew the world was ending in 2012? Would you pay back a debt or blow it off? If you believe in heaven you might want to do the right thing. After all, if you owe the money, it is only right to pay back the debt. Would you get divorced if you knew you had only a year and a half left, or would you work twice as hard to make things work? I like to imagine that every time I say good bye to a person it is the last time I may see them, so I say good bye with love in my heart, and I release them freely. For some people is WAS the last time I saw them. My friend Margaret was killed in a motorcycle accident when I was 17. I am not sorry that the last thing I said to her was "I love you," and "good-bye."
Six months before my mother passed away we were shopping in the Ginza district in Tokyo. If you don't know, this is one of the nicer places to shop. It's loaded with top notch department stores, being a tiny Japanese person, herself, it was one of the few places where everything fit my mom. She was hemming and hawing over which of two pairs of good leather shoes to buy. Both were quite stylish. "Are you kidding me?" I said. "This is your chance to find something that fits you! Something not purchased in the children's department. Buy both pairs!" After considering a moment longer, she did as I suggested. For six more months she had some awesome shoes. Imagine if she had hesitated. She could have gone her whole life without ever knowing what it felt like to buy what she really wanted.
We had a co-worker at the Post Office once who died of cancer. It was about six months from the time she discovered she had cancer and was uninsured, and when she died. She did not spend that six months much differently than the rest of her life. You may think to yourself it would be a great time to take a vacation or blow money in Vegas, but she had no idea how much longer she would live, and she had two daughters and a husband living with her. Frankly, I don't think they could afford to take off and splurge. So she worked as long as she could, doing her same old job. I don't think she had any regrets about it. Not everyone has a "bucket list" of regrets. Some people are so in the habit of doing what they want, when they think of it, that when life is over they are ready to go.
The world being over, is a little bit more than just life being over though. There will be lots of animals wrapped up in the end times, innocent animals. Will you get your cat fixed if you know the world is ending? Will you spend more time with your dog? Will you train your horse? What about the endangered animals? Quite a few are getting oil splattered and killed by the trouble in Louisiana. If we knew the world was ending, would we bother trying to figure out how to make an electric car?
I think, believing the world is going to end could put a lot of people into a callous mindset. Why bother changing if the whole thing ends anyway?