What Are You Living For? : An Exploration of Hypothetical Apocalypses

I’ve had a pretty long week filled with non-stop performances, late nights that actually count as very early mornings and over-all utter exhaustion that has, inevitably, ended with the worst cold on the planet. I spent today in my pyjamas, surrounded by used tissues and trying not to die. All I want is some of that chickpea and lentil soup from Woolworths, instead I’ve had to make due with 2 minute noodles and Med-lemon. Whoop whoop for adulthood, it’s a real hoot.

The only thing to do, besides for survive, is to watch the movie “Seeking a Friend for The End of The World” starring Steve Carrell and Keira Knightly. It’s basically about how the world is due to end in 21 days because of some meteorite that’s about to crash to Earth. The entire movie reveals how we as human-beings are likely to react when we are given a definite deadline (pun intended). Some people take heroin, participate in orgies, start riots and some just pretend it isn’t going to happen; they continue being insurance salesmen or house maids. Some people kill themselves before the apocalypse can do it for them and some still try to find love amidst all the aridity and disenchantment.

Needless to say I watched this movie about two people who end up finding the love of their lives 16 hours before they’re about to die. They spend their last breathing moments stroking each  others faces and sharing their childhoods, they don’t wish for more time or money or experiences, they’re just happy to share in the mutual tragedy of death by meteorite. As the end credits rolled down, I sobbed into my pillow so hard I thought the sun was never going to shine on my soul again.

I messaged my friend. He’s normally quite controversial in his views of the world and he quite honestly drives me crazy with his extreme anti-liberal opinions- I have no clue why I thought he’d be any help. He told me that I need to stop surprising him with how emotional I get over movies. Then he told me that if he had 21 days left to live he would spend it attending class and trying to get his law degree- basically how he spends everyday.

I didn’t get it either. He managed to explain his logic that it’s pointless to try and do anything differently, and then he got all cryptic about how I need to look at the bigger picture so I got frustrated and shoved my phone under my mattress.

The truth is if I had 21 days to live I don’t really know what I’d do. I certainly wouldn’t spend it holed up with a sore throat and blocked nose. I definitely wouldn’t attend any classes, unless it was to tell my French lecturer to suck a cactus, that navy blue-dressed demon.

The most obvious solution to the whole apocalypse dilemma would be for us all to “live each day like it’s our last”.

That’s a popular quote everyone likes to blurt out in conversation. That quote, along with it’s friends “Carpe Diem” and “Dance like nobody’s watching” adorn the skin of every unimaginative 20-something, is plastered on postered bedroom walls and graces the bios of many a Tinder user. It’s a sick, utopian cliche- in my opinion “living each day like it’s our last” is one of those things people romanticise themselves as doing. They like to think they’re these positive, adventurous, spontaneous people, but, when faced with the hypothetical situation of 21 days before the world ends, how many of those people would panic about how boring their lives are?

Probably all of them.

That’s the problem with the human race, we can’t all be the bildungsromantic hero- it’s however rather endearing that we all fantasize ourselves to be so.

I’m pretty sure if I knew the world was ending in 21 days I would be panicking like the rest of them. I would phone my dad and tell him I’m happy he’s around, I’d go home to my mom and my dog and my siblings and play Mah-jong and snuggle in bed like we used to do on Saturday mornings, I’d message the person I like to avoid and tell them how very spectacular I think their smile is and make them aware of how inarticulate and awkward they often make me feel. If public transport still worked, I’d travel, or I’d drive from Johannesburg to Rabat- at least as far as my time would take me.

I’d probably never make peace with how ordinary my life turned out to be.

But I guess, no one ever does.

That’s the thing about a hypothetical apocalypse-it makes you consider the fact that sometimes things are ironically pointless, that money means nothing and security is a pretty illusion. It also makes you recognise how incredibly perennial affection is and how dire our need for emotional connection seems to be.

I don’t think anyone would bother buying themselves a Rolex if they knew they were going to die in 3 weeks. Then again, I might be too much of a blind optimist.

You have 21 days left to live…what are you living for?


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