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The world’s ‘end’ is time to make a fresh start

Ancient Mayan ruins still stgrounds resort near Xacaret Mexico.

Ancient Mayan ruins still stand on the grounds of a resort near Xacaret, Mexico.

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Updated: February 4, 2013 2:45PM

On the day the world was supposed to end, I found myself near the Caribbean coastal town of Xcaret, Mexico, not far from where ancient Mayan ruins stand — blue waters gently rolling.

I hadn’t necessarily planned to be here on Dec. 21 — the prophetic doomsday date that some believed had been foretold by ancient Mayans. Though largely dismissed by experts, the notion of the world ending in 2012 — of fire falling from the sky or a tidal wave eclipsing all dry land — was not lost on everyone else, even if you didn’t exactly believe it.

I was aware but not a believer.

Partly, this had to do with a Bible Scripture — Matthew 24:36 — drilled into my head since I was a kid about any cataclysmic end of the world: “. . . of that day and hour knoweth no man . . .”

My skepticism may also have had something to do with being a journalist — a trained professional skeptic. Not to mention being a natural-born cynic.

I also remembered some years ago, some poor, God-fearing schmucks holed up in a West Side church, having been convinced by their pastor’s so-called “prophetic word” that the world was about to end. So convinced, they reportedly sold their worldly possessions, then gathered inside the church at the appointed time, locked the doors and waited.

Doomsday came. And went.

No duh!

I figured Dec. 21, 2012, would be the same.

On doomsday eve, while reclining on the beach, I happened to run into another tourist who reminded me that this would be our final night on Earth (wink, wink), and that to commemorate it, some folks planned to gather near Mayan ruins on the resort’s grounds with a cold beer and an unofficial countdown to apocalypse.

“We plan to be there to see what happens,” she said sarcastically and smiling.

I promised to join them quicker than you can say, “Dos Equis!”

I also figured I would carry along my laptop and camera, just in case something did happen to go down. But truthfully, I figured the most I would likely get out of the experience — if I was lucky — was a few cold ones and maybe a decent column.

I later got to thinking, “What if the world really was ending?”

“What would I do in those precious final hours?” “Who would I want to see, spend my remaining time with?” “What regrets might I have?”

“What might I do over, if only I had more time?” “To whom would I apologize, wish I could share one last kiss?”

Truth is, I sometimes think about how much time I — we — waste on frivolous things that pale in comparison to the simple, memorable, priceless and most precious gifts in life. How life — paying bills and commuting, raising children and the daily grind — can sometimes seem an endless, draining cycle.

How tragedy or sudden news can slap us back to the reality that our days are numbered, back to the sobering truth that any day on this Earth could very well be our last.

And yet, I — like others — fail sometimes to truly live. Fail to redeem the time, fail too often to breathe in each day like it is our last, so that our final exhale might be sweet — our lives having been lived richly, fully.

That evening, I lay down for a nap and ended up missing any apocalypse festivities. But on the morning after, I arose to watch the sunrise.

Golden over blue waters, between white clouds that stood like mountains, the sun ascended on the horizon — a priceless gift of a new day.

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