I know some of you have procrastinated doing your Christmas shopping. If this is your normal routine, no problem. I’m sure you’ll find a way to get everything done on time, just like you do every year. But if any of you are holding out to see whether or not the world ends on Friday, I suggest you get busy fulfilling those wish lists.
The Maya calendar system is based on cycles. December 21, 2012 corresponds with the end of their long count calendar, completing a great Maya cycle of time.
By definition, a cycle is:
1. Any complete round or series of occurrences that repeats or is repeated.
2. A round of years or a recurring period of time, especially one in which certain events or phenomena repeat themselves in the same order and at the same intervals.
Translating this English into plainer English, this means once a calendar ends, a new one will begin, in an endlessly repeating loop.
If believing this simple truism is too much of a stretch for you, I have a more ordinary explanation. The Mayans carved their calendars on stone monuments. I imagine carving the intricate hieroglyphs that portrayed over 5,000 years of time in each long count was a tedious task. One an enterprising mother might assign to her teenaged son…
Here’s how that mother-son conversation might have gone:
A Mayan woman glanced up from her cooking fire as her son ran by her. “Muluc, have you finished carving the next long cycle of time onto the monument?”
Muluc didn’t break stride from his game of pok-ol-pok, a sport similar to modern day soccer, before saying, “I carved the last cycle. It’s Nai’s turn.”
Muluc’s younger sister Nai put her hands on her hips in protest. “Muluc! I’ve been grinding corn all morning to help Mom make tortillas for your lunch. You need to help.”
The mother sighed as she turned to rescue a burning tortilla. “Muluc, stop playing around. That calendar won’t carve itself, you know.”
But, when she looked up again, he was still kicking the ball. Exasperated, she screeched, “Muluc! Go carve that long cycle.”
“I will. Later.” Muluc dashed off towards the fields. “I have to help Dad with the crops.”
Unconfirmed reports from a trusted source (Facebook) state after extensive excavation, archeologists found a draft of the next long count calendar under what they identified as a teenaged Mayan boy’s bed. I was able to obtain this photo of the depiction of the next cycle, thanks to my quick thinking actions. (I snapped this picture before my kids ate their way through the pantry.)
I can guarantee there will be continual cycles of mother-son conversations just like this one, for all eternity and throughout every culture. Don’t worry, I’m confident this young scribe’s procrastination will not prevent us from seeing December 22nd. If the world does end on Friday, it will be one huge cosmic coincidence.
But just in case I’m wrong about the whole apocalypse thing, this time I’m going to be the one to eat the last Oreo.