Apocaloptimism: a belief that the end is near, but that’s not necessarily such a bad thing.

#2 The Accidental Farmer

It doesn’t feel the same looking back as it did looking forward.

At the time, I remember the dread, the fear… that persistent gnawing feeling in the pit of my gut.

There was this moment — a specific point in time — when suddenly I knew nothing I could do would stop the inevitable. I could see the train wreck coming, but I couldn’t stop it.

Growing up a privileged 20th century American, the idea of fate was alien; unthinkable. We were the masters of our own destiny. If we weren’t, we were nothing. Failures. Denying fate was the definition of success.

But in that moment, I understood. I understood forces beyond my control. Irrational forces seemingly bent on their own destruction, willing to drag me under with them. A global murder-suicide.

I resisted. I resisted with all I had. I tried. I believed. I imagined so many scenarios where people would come to their senses and then — poof — we’d figure it out.

Somehow.

It seemed so easy, in my mind. All it took was for people to change theirs.

But they didn’t.

Facts. Pleading. Threats. Humour. Visions. Science. Stories. Nothing worked.

Doomed. The irrational would win. It was fate.

And so, I gave up. I gave in. It wasn’t easy. It happened in convulsions. A sinking feeling; a sickness deep down inside and nothing to do but heave it up. Disgusting. Putrid. Exhausting. But better out than in, I suppose.

There was a point when I wondered if I was dying. How could anyone possibly endure this?

Then exhaustion turned into a sort of, well, sleep of the dead. There was nothing left to do but give in to it. There are worse ways to die. You enter this shadow realm; you cross over. Like life, but not quite. Nothing quite real; a shadow of itself. Hollow. Empty. Void.

In the void, where obligation and expectation lose all power, the first impulse is “fuck it.” Fuck you. Fuck them. Fuck it all. Fuck me.

The second impulse, though, is a flicker.

Next to fate stands resurrection. It has nothing to do with what happens when the heart stops beating and the brain has no oxygen. It’s all to do with when the soul takes its first breath. Not born again; born for the first time. Finally alive.

An almost embarrassed voice coughs to get your attention and says “I mean, I know with the end of the world and all, this probably doesn’t matter, and I don’t mean to intrude on the very nice funk you’ve got going — very impressive, we’ve all been saying — but since you’ve got nothing to do until it all, you know, goes, um, catawampus, we were thinking it might actually be a bit of fun to…”

Now, from conversations I’ve had with my neighbours, the next bit is unique to you. A bespoke destiny, as it were.

For me, what came was “check in on the animals.”

And so I did.

One thing led to another and here I find myself, on this farm, a willing slave to the menagerie. Cows and pigs, chicken and sheep. A few dogs and goats and the deer that wander in. Pesky racoons and playful otters. A barn cat. A few humans. Somehow, I became their servant.

But the more I gave in, the more opened up to me until all there was was openness.

So looking back feels different.

There is no dread. No fear. All is calm. Nothing that was given up was lost. Everything has been gain.

The only question that remains is why, ever, did I fear letting go of what wasn’t real to begin with. Why did I keep myself from realness for so long?

Now, I wonder.

How lucky I am to have lost it all. How lucky to have found what was waiting just beyond the fear.

Consider this an invitation to a cooperative writing experiment. This is just the start of a shared story. Are you an apocaloptimist? If so, add your part of the tale — a fictionalized account of the journey into apocalypse and through to new hope (maybe). Just add it as comment on this story.

You can introduce a new character or continue the story of an already introduced character — which means anyone can take on your character and add to their story — you don’t get complete control of your characters. (Please start your story with a title that includes the main character’s name so we can easily connect the storylines.)

The only rule is the “yes, and…” of improv — you have to accept the world as created by previous authors as the starting place.

Let’s see what kind of story we can create together.

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Ben Kadel

Ben Kadel

Changing the way you feel about work.

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