The Catastrophizer will now, for the very first time, respond to a reader's anxious question for Dear Catastrophizer. This is the very first anxious query Dear Catastrophizer has received and I am pleased it takes as its subject a classic catastrophizing issue: the end of the world. I can only assume that questioners-on-the-cusp will be moved by the manner in which I inflame his anxieties and send in their questions as well, as this is also the only anxious query Dear Catastrophizer has received.Dear Catastrophizer: I fear we are living in the end times. The Bible, the Mayans, Nostradamus, the Knights Templar, the Illuminati, all point to these being the end of days. Predictions say this will be the last Pope and the last President. It's all gonna blow on December 21st, 2012. What's a boy to do?
Well, a boy should catastrophize. That's the short answer. However, I've always been of the opinion that short answers are the hobgoblins of little minds, so I will elaborate (and do this despite the fact that I suspect the questioner, desperate to capitalize on the negative buzz generated by this site, is a representative from the publicity arm of the studio responsible for that Nicholas-Cageless-Nicholas Cage movie released recently).If the prognosticators are wrong: It doesn't really matter, because you will ultimately and inevitably face your own personal apocalypse in that you will die. Ultimately and inevitably. As Philip Larkin wrote in his poem "Aubade": "Most things may never happen: this one will." The world may endure forever and forever after all those Illuminati have begun to fertilize sickly and shifty-looking geraniums, but that will make absolutely no difference to you personally because you'll be very dead. Will that catastrophizing be for here or to go, sir? Either way, you'll be needing it.There is a good chance that the prognosticators will prove to be entirely wrong, because, and listen (because I assume you're reading this to yourself aloud in order to invest it with the proper resonance) carefully, gentle catastrophyte, because this will prove to be an invaluable aid to you in the future: when it comes to the future, nobody knows jack. If you want, find a few friends who are also fond of cowled robes, start meeting at mysterious, preferably ruined locations, convince yourself you're controlling the fluctuations of US currency, and issue a decree through some well known, alarmist website indicating that the world is going to end on some random future date. If you're going to try to do this thing right, go to the trouble of ensuring that this date corresponds with the world-ending date posited by another cowled-robe crew. Then simply wait and see how many people, on the eve of your Day, throw their belongings into the sea. I'll bet there will be a few. People like to get themselves worked up every fin-de-siecle or two.If the prognosticators are right: please see paragraph one of "if the prognosticators are wrong" above.
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Too tired to worry? Feel as though you have too many responsibilities already? What with the job, the kids, the obsessive need to keep up with contemporary fiction so as not to feel intimidated by those pricks from college, it can be difficult to fit in a good bout of catastrophizing.
Do not fear! Or rather, fear away! Here are a few tips for catastrophizing in hectic times:
1) Don't disregard what might seem like lost or vacant time. Waiting for a bus, for examples, seems like a good opportunity for listening to ponderous slow songs on your portable music player or doing inconspicuous physical exercises, but did you realize that during the time it takes to listen to one Antony and the Johnson's song or to slowly and imperceptibly clench your buttocks, you could have crafted a catastrophism that would have taken you mentally from that moment to the unavoidable fact of your own death?
The next time you're on public transit, don't lose minutes or hours to aimless angst. Try a few exercises to keep those catastrophizing muscles toned. Look at the people around you and try to predict the reasons they are failing or will fail in life. The woman in the taupe pantsuit with an unopened copy of A Suitable Boy; the bulgy man with the battered rucksack clutching a battered book about the Illuminati; the clean-cut, frat-boy-banker type, who is clearly wishing he weren't still a teller so that he could buy a car and stop having to take public transit. All of these strangers should represent inspiration to the mindfully morose mind, a mind otherwise given to questioning why it is on the way to a temp job when it was so celebrated in theatre school.
2. Catastrophize with Others. While solitary catastrophizing is irreplaceable, pair/group catastrophizing also has its place.
If you have, just have, to go out with friends from work, why not turn that time to good use? Help your friends understand, for example, why it is that the new management change will undoubtedly lead to the loss of your jobs and eventual penury; gently indicate to them that their love of cheese appetizers is what just might be making them so surprisingly wobbly. A good icebreaker could involve asking them what they wanted to be when they grew up; this has the effect of immediately calling to mind their failure to achieve their dreams and the dreadfulness of their current unwanted but long-held jobs in HR.
If you are currently in a romantic relationship, opportunities for pair catastrophizing abound. If you, say, bought a copy of a brand new video game instead of downloading it because you respect the integrity and creativity of those who produced it and because it would be impossible to download anyway because they're now guarding against things like that, well, see that as an example of a lack of thriftiness that will result in maxing out that line of credit you never really should have gotten in college anyway.
It is difficult to maintain a relationship in times of stress, so then imagine together how economic trials will cause him to confide in the totally sympathetic admin assistant at his work and her to confide in that totally sympathetic admin assistant at her work. Envision realizing your relationship was based on the responsibilities brought about by history and leaving one another for admin assistants who, it will turn out, really LOVE Cougar Town and/or Manswers and are inclined to wear Uggs around the house.
These are mere suggested jumping-off points for the catastrophyte. The avid and dedicated catastrophyte will eventually be able to look at the world, at his/her friends and loved ones, and turn every observation into a presentiment of catastrophe!
POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is for entertainment purposes only. If you are not entertained, fair enough.