Editorial: Seeking a purpose for the end of the world

Now that December has announced its arrival with dark, cloudy skies, chilling rain and waning sunlight, Winter Break is only a few final exams away. This means that this issue of the Highlander will be the last published in the year 2012. And since the world will undoubtedly end in a terrific blaze of glory on Dec. 21, 2012, this issue of the Highlander will be the last ever published. It will no doubt become a highly-prized collector’s item among the only organisms to survive the impending cataclysm—cockroaches. Rest assured, the Highlander staff has taken steps to insure the legacy of our campus newspaper will live on in the earthly realm before we transcend the mortal coils that bind us to this world alongside the rest of the human race.

But the Highlander has not just spent the last few weeks of its existence only to secure its own legacy. We have decided to go out with a bang. Rather than quake with terror or curl up into the fetal position at the prospect of imminent doom, we each have made the decision to spend the last of our time on this green Earth enjoying the last of our time on Earth. Some of us will travel to foreign countries or other states. Others will learn a new language or eat our favorite foods until we get sick. And we will spend our time with the people we care about most, our friends and families. In short, we are determined to do what we’ve always wanted to do, but never made time for.

Striving for your goals and acting on your dreams is a good thing. It’s just a shame that it will take the end of the world to make it happen. Perhaps as a people we are only motivated by deadlines—there is no deadline more final than the end of the world. Or maybe we spend too much time focusing on trivial desires that result only in fleeting pleasure. Either way, there have been those times where we postponed a family gathering or a night out with friends for a day because of some television show’s season finale. The delay always starts as a day. But soon it becomes a week, and later transforms into a month, until the event is shoved aside indefinitely, forgotten and abandoned like a dilapidated piece of furniture carelessly left behind by the roadside in the dirt.

What does this say about us—the way we so casually dismiss life’s meaningful activities in favor of actions that give us at best only momentary pleasure? Instead of taking the time to write a letter to a friend living across the globe, we stare out the window at the pedestrians walking along the sidewalk. Instead of volunteering at an animal shelter, we sit at our computer and dredge the depths of the Internet for a webcomic or search for popular memes. Is this the kind of existence we want for ourselves?

After finals week is done, we’ll have a Winter Break full of free time. What will you choose to do? You could decide to lay on the couch in your apartment and watch reruns of House for days on end, only emerging from your hermitage to use the restroom and secure something to eat. Or you could camp out in the Mojave Desert and view the stars in the clear night sky. Maybe you’d prefer to drive to Six Flags and take on every single roller coaster in the amusement park. You and your friends might decide to go eat at a restaurant you’ve never been to before, or volunteer to help others eat by spending time at a soup kitchen. You could take up the craft of origami, teach yourself to play the guitar, learn sign language, master archery, or study the art of pre-modern warfare. What you decide to do is limited only by your imagination and your individual desires.

Why wait until the end of the world to do what you love? If the human race were to suddenly go extinct today, would you be happy with the life you’ve lived and the things you’ve done? Our time on this planet is short; every hour is precious. Spend your time with people you value, doing activities you enjoy. There’s no problem with taking a few days off, relaxing, and catching up on sleep. Everybody needs to break for a bit sometime. But don’t wait until the Earth spontaneously combusts to go bungee jumping if that’s what you’ve always wanted to do. Go bungee jumping now. After all, you’ve only got until Dec. 21 to do it. Of course, there’s always the off chance that the world does not come to a screeching halt on Dec. 21. But in that case, you’ll only have a greater amount of time to do everything on your list and more. You’ll come back to UCR in January a much more interesting, experienced and richer person for it.

At the beginning of the school year, we encouraged students to take the plunge into the pool of opportunities that is UCR and reach outside their comfort zone. But this shouldn’t just be limited to what you do at UCR. It’s a theme you can strive to live by in everything you do, even after your UCR days are only memories residing in the dusty pages of your history. Over Winter Break, travel to that place you’ve always wanted to go to. Learn to play the instrument you’ve always wanted to play. Pick up the book that’s been gathering dust on your shelf that you’ve always wanted to read. There is no time like the present. And when you do decide to dive in, whether the world ends or not, your experience will amply reward you.

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