The End of the World

It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.” (R.E.M.)

Let’s talk about paradigm shifts. Let’s talk about the end of one world order and the start of another. Let’s talk about Mary Poppins.

In 2013, Mary Poppins, a 1964 movie about a magical and loving nanny of the same name, was selected for preservation on the grounds that it was ‘culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant’. Why was that? I think that maybe it’s because it epitomises a well-loved theme in movies – that of transformation by virtue of the introduction of a profound change factor.

In other words: things were bad -> something happened -> things were good.

If you want to write a story or novel based on this theme, here are the major elements to include:

  • Kaliyuga. The book starts here at, literally, the age of death, a time when energy has reached its nadir. Paradoxically, the characters in the book must not be aware that they are that their lowest ebb. For the tension in the story to be maintained, they must believe that they are living a life of luxury and ease. Any disasters or catastrophes in their lives, either on a global or personal scale, must be capable of being explained away; and the minor triumphs and transient feeling of happiness must be seen as being the normal state of affairs.
  • Sangamyug. The turning point of the fortunes in this book begins here. Often it is the arrival of a stranger that sparks a series of events that lead to the vast majority of the population (the unbelievers) turning against the new arrival, but that inspires just a few faithful ones to embrace the new ideas that the visitor brings. These ideas, when adopted, begin to make a huge difference to the lives of those few. But, because of the resistance by the many, and the entrenched old ideas – even in the hearts of the few, the new paradigm leads to many trials and tribulations on the path to transformation. Often, a tragedy of widespread magnitude is the only way that a lasting change to the new order can come about. The faithful, with their new way of living – divorced from the sins and mistakes of the past, triumph and become part of the new age. The unbelievers, who stubbornly cling to their old ways, typically perish.
  • Satyug. This is the start of the new world, a place that is, largely due to the huge population drop but also attributable to the new value system, a land of plenty. Industrialisation, with its attendant polluting effects, is absent, but some high end, non-polluting, self-sustaining technologies may still remain in circumstances where they enhance the lives of the small band of survivors and thrivers. This is typically a time of carefree innocence and extraordinary artistic expression, which leads to great happiness and peace. It is a time of golden beauty where earth, animals, skies and people are replenished and full of energy.
  • Tretayug and Dwapuryug. Then comes the inevitable fall. Then comes the hatred, wars, peacelessness and the eventual return to the age of death. You can invent your own reasons for this. Look around yourself today – check the TV, radio and the stories of those around you for inspiration – if that is the right word, and write about what you see. The cycle closes and we await the return of the stranger in the second three-volume set of your epic tale.

This plot is immensely popular, but not just in the book and film industry – it is all around us. Virtually everything goes in cycles – the seasons, night and day, our own lives (see The Lion King), eating and the opposite of eating (yeah – that), police sirens – everything. Nothing remains in pristine condition forever – it is always subject to birth, growth, decay and death.

But ultimately, this is no reason for sorrow. We can either get attached to stuff and then mourn the passing of it, or we can recognise that this is the nature of all things and prepare to let go in advance. The choice is ours to make. What are you going to let go of today?

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55 thoughts on “The End of the World

  1. That is a really deep writing about something so easily overlooked. You have described about all the Yug perfectly. The dark times, the times when it seem like things are going to take a turn, then havoc and horror until you drift into a land of peace… It was beautiful peace of writing. You sound so calm and peaceful as you say the few last lines of your post… Great.

    PS. Pardon me for asking but are you a follower of Brahmakumaris or some religious movement?

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    • Number wise, according to my effort – yes. 🙂 But you will also notice elements of Buddhism creeping in there. In fact – the values embodied in this post are quite universal and are evident in many, many movies and books too – hence this post.
      Thank you for your kind words, but thanks must also go to a more elevated soul than me – my wife. 😀
      How’s your day going, bhenji?

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      • okay… well first of all we don’t appreciate being called Bhenji (you have spelled it wrong anyway.) whatever nationality you belong to have some respect for those who are not from the same nation.

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      • Wow! That certainly opened my eyes to a part of the world I was previously unaware of. 🙂
        Sorry – I now know that the correct spelling is ‘behenji’ and I stand by the term because to me it means ‘respected sister’ and I meant it as a positive and respectful term. I’m now aware that in India, the term is at times also used to ridicule someone, as if she is not smart or competent enough to face the outside world. I can assure you that I am not using the term in this way – what possible motive could I have to do this? 🙂
        If you are still offended and do not accept my apology, then I can do nothing about this – but you still have my very best wishes for the future.
        Kind regards – Robert (from York – England).

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      • Well for someone who is learned enough you did use one word that is treated as a slang in India.One word that is used to ridicule women and to show them that they are beneath others… Well there are tons of other words for “respected sister” like “didi, behen, anna” etc … Languages are full of really “respectable words” yet we chose to use the ones which have the potential to hurt someone as they wake up the first thing in the morning, even if it wasn’t intentional. I have been to UK and I have found that many foreigners do use this words to ridicule us Indians till today. I was offended because I know that too many people still have racism in their hearts. It hurt me.

        Our words have the power to destruct and construct worlds. Let’s not forget that.

        My wishes and all the best for your success. Namaste.

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    • Hey Christi, lovely to see you! 🙂
      Your story sounds like something that anyone in their right mind would want to get involved in – thanks for that. Oh, and about the ear-worm? You’re very welcome – it’s a really nice song from a great band. 🙂
      Hope the kite flying is going well for you – do let me know if you need someone to throw the kite up while you run like crazy into the wind!

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  2. Long before there was a Mary Poppins movie there were Mary Poppins books. The first one was published in 1934 and when I was young I read a lot of them and enjoyed them. The movie was cute but I like the books better. As for the movie being preserved, that’s a good thing I imagine. The books are still being sold so they are preserved as well. If I could find them on Kindle I would buy them but otherwise I won’t. I would rather read on my Kindle.

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    • Books have their place (walking along in the sunshine) and movies have their place too (ironing and washing the pots). Out of the two I prefer books, but on paper rather than on a screen. Actually, thinking about it – I probably prefer writing above both of them. 🙂

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    • Excellent! It’s a lovely song from a great band. They have so many nice songs and I very much enjoy listening to them.
      The official term for having a song in your head is ‘earworm’ – isn’t that just wonderful? 🙂

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  3. I like paper books as well but this house is already stuffed with those. I find that my Kindle is easier to read because, unlike paper books, it always stays open and flat. Paperbacks are the worst about wanting to close up and since I often read while eating, that’s a pain. I have the complete Lord of the Rings in hardback and it’s a heavy monster of a book… it’s two inches thick. I also have Harry Potter books in hardback and the are also monsters. I have read all of them but… wow! I’m rereading Allen Dean Foster’s Taken Trilogy but it’s slow going. It’s also a monster. That’s the thing about paper books. They take up a lot of space, get dirty and torn, the bindings give out leaving you with a bunch of pages (I find duct tape works for those) and I have so many books that’s it’s often difficult for me to find the one I want. No trees have to die to make a Kindle book.

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    • I read books and then I pass them on for someone else to enjoy. That’s one of the reasons I font like kindle books – you can’t pass them on. The other main reason is that I can’t pick kindle books up at car boot sales and table top sales for ridiculously small amounts of money. I know you can get cheap kindle books – I’ve got plenty of them on my phone – but not the ones that I want. I’m currently reading the Lensman series in the 1979 Panther paperback editions. They are old and yellow and the smell reminds me of my childhood. They cost me 25 pence each from a car boot this weekend gone, so that’s the entire series of 7 for less than two quid. I’be just checked on Amazon and the series cost (on average) four pound each, so 28 quid for the set. I’ll let you work out how much money I saved. Plus – I checked out whether I could get a free pdf download of the first book and I can, but only an expurgated version with half of the story missing.
      In view of the additional fact that trees I am reading these books on have been dead for almost half a century – M’lud – I rest my case. 😉

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  4. I have no idea what a pence is and not a quid either. I know what a squid is though. Kindle often has sales and in any case, most of the books I am reading right now are free… in a way. It’s kind of like a lending library. I have to return one to get another one. That’s just fine with me. As for passing paper books on to someone else, I don’t do that. They are my treasures and I won’t part with them. I have to leave so many behind when I moved here and I really don’t want to part with the ones I still have. I have books that are quite old myself. I got one when I was still in grade-school. It’s in perfect condition. I have a paperback that cost me 25 cents. I have no idea what that would be in British money but not much I should think. All of the new ones cost way more than that.

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    • 😀 Looks like we’re going to have to agree to differ on this subject, Orpha. But hey – worse things than that happen at sea – right? 😉
      I have stuff from my childhood too – boxes and boxes of books, comics, records, nic-nacs. I haven’t looked at them for years, but I think of them and the memories I have from them. It’s all good. 🙂

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  5. We can’t agree about everything but on the other hand, it doesn’t really matter does it? That would make life too boring. What is important is that we both love to read. It doesn’t matter at all how we read, just that we read.

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