And so it begins ...
Twenty twelve. The year it's all supposed to go south.
If we are to believe certain Internet conspiracy theories, something very, very bad is going to happen on Dec. 21, 2012. That's the date the Mayan calendar -- which has been chugging along like a well-oiled Mesoamerican machine for a whopping 5,126 years -- abruptly comes to an unceremonious end. And then what? Nobody really knows.
But apparently, we're now taking emergency-preparedness advice from a civilization that expired more than 1,100 years before its calendar did.
Look, I saw "2012," the fascinating Roland Emmerich documentary. And I know that -- for the vast majority of us who won't get to climb aboard those high-tech Noah's Arks the world's governments are secretly building even as we speak -- the end ain't gonna be pretty. Earthquakes. Supervolcanoes. Tsunamis. Increasingly more television shows featuring Regis Philbin.
Been nice knowing you.
Ah, but I suppose there is some good to come out of all this. You know, there's a popular saying that you should live each day as if it were your last. And with all this talk of the impending apocalypse in 2012, this seems as good a year as any to start taking such advice to heart.
The dawning of each new year compels many of us to attempt change in our lives. In that spirit, here are five helpful suggestions for living this year like it's your last (because, well, it just might be):
1. Diet and exercise are for suckers. One of the most common New Year's resolutions made -- and broken -- has to do with getting healthy. But that presupposes you're in it for the long haul. If our remaining time on this planet is so short that we won't even have to worry about regifting that Forever Lazy next Christmas, then there's really no need for concern about what you're eating or how sedentary your lifestyle is.
So go ahead and watch that "Big Bang Theory" marathon while eating an entire box of Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies. Because, in reality, any self-improvement from here on out is little more than rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.
2. Ditto uncomfortable events or procedures. Like colonoscopies. Or Mariah Carey concerts. Seriously? If I were to hear Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You" one more time this holiday season, I would have grimly perforated both eardrums with the nearest available icicle.
What I'm saying is that if there's something potentially painful you've been putting off for a while now -- a medical or dental procedure, paying off a credit card, confessing an indiscretion to a loved one -- this might not be the year for you to get all conscientious on us.
Oh, and flossing? Forget about it.
3. Promise yourself that in the coming year you'll increasingly invoke what has become known as "The Greiner Rule." Basically, it means that you do whatever you feel like doing, without worrying about little details like whether it's illegal. Exceed the speed limit. Roll through that stop sign. Cross the double white line to get into that carpool lane. And then, when you get pulled over for it, simply inform the officer that it's an outdated law that needs to be changed, or that it doesn't apply in your specific circumstance, so you've chosen to ignore it.
It's like your own personal get-out-of-jail-free card.
4. Always listen to the advice given in country music songs. They're usually spot on with their folksy wisdom set to twangy pop tunes. For example, Lee Ann Womack advises us, in song, "When you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance." Unless, of course, it's something like, say, clogging. Or one of those dance fitness programs like Jazzercise. Because then you're better off just sitting there on your hands.
But Lee Ann's point is well-taken: You really should still feel small when you stand beside the ocean. Whatever that means.
5. Live like you're dying. And finally, speaking of taking advice from country songs, a certain Tim McGraw tune recommends that you should "Live like you were dying." Which I heartily endorse.
Why? Not because I think you should go out and do something dangerous -- like skydiving, or riding a bull named Fu Manchu. But because dying people don't do squat around the house. Dying people never have to make the bed. Nobody expects a dying person to do the dishes, or the laundry, or mow the lawn, or clean up the dog's leavings in the backyard.
And you'd certainly never see a dying person shoveling snow off the driveway. My goodness, no. You're dying. Nobody wants to overtax you in your condition. Besides, you've got more important things to do with what precious little remaining time you have left.
I recommend the "Roland Emmerich's '2012' Dance Dance Revolution Apocalypse" video game.
Contact Mark Saal, who in the coming year resolves to stop feeling so big when he stands beside the ocean, at 801-625-4272 or email@example.com.