What next — locusts?

Many Christians believe we’re careering towards The End of Days as defined by Revelations, and that Armageddon is bearing down on us at the speed … well … at the speed four apocalyptic horsemen can gallop.

At times last year, it certainly seemed like it here in New Zealand’s capital. What with the big quake in November, all those aftershocks and slips, followed by the sort of catclysmic floods that caused Noah to take to the Ark. “What next?” we Wellingtonians all thought. “Swarms of locusts?”

Actually all the seismic shifting and biblical-style tempests did seem to be incredibly portentous as Trump pulled his sleight of electioneering and got voted in as leader of the western world about a week later… after the earlier astonishment of BREXIT. Even worse, the very same week, the peerless Leonard Cohen left us for the great tower of song in the sky — presumably accompanied by celestial choruses singing the Hallelujah? By the way, anyone else remember his lyric about America being “the cradle of the best and of the worst” (Democracy is coming to the USA)? Even more prescient as things have turned out!

Anyway the catalogue of disasters and sorrows kept flowing through the year like Tattinger at a socialite’s wedding. Topping it all, my own life and times could only have been described as a comedy of errors … more on that in other posts.

Comes the New Year. Wellington had stopped shaking, there was that incredible last album Leonard left us for consolation. A heap of other stuff had resolved with the closing of the old year and a perplexity of good things rung in with the new. I’m starting to think that 2017, in spite of Trump, is going to be a good year. Life was feeling, if not like a bed of roses, at least close to a pot of pretty pink petunias. Then the curved ball from left field. Last week’s spoiler; the hands on the Doomsday Clock were moved forward 30 minutes!! Apparently, we’re now only two and a half minutes from midnight, the time at which humanity is considered likely becomes toast! Bummer.

If you haven’t caught up with this somewhat disturbing news, the Doomsday Clock is the brainchild of a group called the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board (ASSSB) which includes 18 Nobel Laureates. It was established in 1947 by experts working on designing and building the first atomic bomb. They wanted a simple way of conveying their concerns about the potential for nuclear annihilation and came up with this chillingly simple solution — the hands of a clock moving towards or away from midnight, depending on how us humans are behaving towards each other. The closer we get to midnight, the more likely we are to annihilate ourselves.

Of course the clock is symbolic rather than scientific. Without getting bogged down in the matrices and algorithms involved (and I could), suffice to say our heroes in the ASSSB contemplate all the prevailing horrors of the world at any given time conjouring up the contents of a contemporary Pandora’s Box — nuclear weapons, climate change, political flash points, pandemics etc. If some later day Pandora opened the box and let loose any or all of these, we’d move forward to midnight and it would be all over Rover for humankind.

The clock was originally set at seven minutes to midnight in the dark days post war. The only time we’ve got closer than we are now was in 1953 at the time of the early US/Soviet nuclear standoff. In the interim there have been regular recalibrations. When the Cold War ended in 1991, greatly reducing the number of deployable nukes in the USA and the USSR, the world reached a comparatively super-safe 17 minutes to the hour. Fun times!

So what’s changed? Apparently, for the first time ever, a unique individual — Trump in case you were wondering — has been factored into the calculations. Think Trump’s pledges to impede progress in nuclear disarmament. His reluctance to discuss climate change mitigation and a cavalier (to say the very least) take on human rights. Quite honestly, I’m surprised they only moved the hands 30 seconds forward!

Despite it all, I’m going to run with my New Year spirit of optimism. Keep believing that the lid will stay on the box. That we will … as the old protest song goes … overcome. It may not be comfortable, but maybe everything that’s going on provides the catalyst we need to move beyond complacency and stand up for the things that matter. If we are indeed at a tipping point, every single one of us needs to push positive vibes out and do small things to ensure that we tip in the direction of the angels. Towards the paradise that this earth should and could be … for all. Not just complacently bitch and moan our way to The End of Days and then get pissed at suffering the ‘pains of the inferno” as a consequence. Our date with midnight is not yet a done deal — we still have two and a half minutes. I’m working out my game plan to do what I can to reverse symbolic time. What’s about you?

If you have to go to work before breakfast, have breakfast first

I love this piece of nutty circular wisdom. Don’t know who said it, but I wish I had. It makes me smile every time I think about it because while it means nothing of any consequence, I sort of get the paradox. Basically life’s a contradiction and that’s all there is to it. That probably makes me about as original as a member of a boy band but hey, we can’t all be Proust!

Never succumb to beige!

On the off chance that anyone ever asks me my views on life, my advice would start with ‘never succumb to beige’.

I have been tempted, I can tell you. On more than one occasion to be absolutely honest. It’s so fashionable (although beige has sort of morphed into that  ubiquitous mushroom colour so beloved of interior designistas). I’ve even owned some beige stuff — a jacket, a throw (which I actually did love), maybe event a couple of pairs of shoes over the years. And why not? After all, beige is the darling of Taste. The hero of Conservative. It has its place for sure. But why would you choose  beige when there’s so much vibrant colour to be had? It’s just so … well … tastefully boring!

The whole idea of not succumbing to beige has  become a personal metaphor for always being who you are, despite the pressure to conform to all manner of often uncomfortable societal norms . To thine own self be true I say, even if thy true self is more bling than Ming. Quite apart from anything else, imagine the epitaph it would make, ‘she never succumbed to beige!’

Pondering the meaning of beige set of a bit of a navel gazing moment while I figured out what else I would offer up to this hypothetical seeker of Frankie’s advice. So here it is, the sum total of my wisdom to date supported by a number of spectacular prat falls, a lot of sticking plaster and a naturally sunny outlook:

  • The world really is your oyster
  • If you’ve got lemons, make lemonade — then get innovative
  • Always have at least one foot off the ground
  • Money may not buy happiness, but it surely does help in our material world
  • Unless you’re an ostrich, don’t behave like one
  • You really are what you eat and drink
  • Love is all you need … once you’ve taken care of the tangible assets
  • It’s probable the geeks actually will inherit the earth
  • The road to Hell most definitely is paved with good intentions
  • Eat, drink and be merry … because it’s fun
  • If you can’t put up, shut up. In other words, put your money where your mouth is
  • The answer’s much more likely to be blowing in the wind than that at the bottom of a bottle
  • Rose tinted glasses have their place
  • Stay in tune with your inner Barbie, you’ll need her as you age
  • Sometimes say never
  • Doing as you would be done by is better than sleeping pills
  • Anyone who doesn’t know what happiness is has never seen a puppy
  • Sorry doesn’t always make it right … but it helps
  • Don’t climb every mountain — choose strategically
  • There’ll be blue birds over the white cliffs of Dover — if you can visualise well enough
  • Love IS the sweetest thing
  • If your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to it
  • Shit Creek is not a terminus!

If you take all these on board, I’m sure your life will soon be as perfect as mine J