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How to face the end of days when everything is overwhelmingly terrible

How to face the end of days when everything is overwhelmingly terrible

“If this is it, then shouldn’t we drink in all the joys this wondrous planet we live on has afforded us?”

I have a friend who thinks that the earth is dying and there’s really nothing we can do about it.

Its time is up, thus ours too, and we need to just stop the punishing cycle of being in a constant state of eco-existential crisis and accept our fate, as we have sealed it. It is not a popular thought, this fatalist view, nor the most uplifting one. In fact, it goes against all our natural instincts for self-preservation and perpetuation of the species. Yet I can’t shake the strange liberation the idea has conjured.

As I stand daily before my dual rubbish bin, frozen with indecision over which section something really belongs in, or if it belongs at all – trying to do a mental spin of whether, if you put it in the wrong place, will you contaminate a whole truckload of recyclables, and thus be responsible for a pile of plastic being added to the already festering piles of plastic in the ground.

Or if you left that scrap of tomato sauce in the bottle, will it too kill all your good efforts? What about your avocado or green bean consumption? Surely that means you’re going to hell in a handcart anyway. Never mind the fact that your car is almost 20 years old and requires some kind of masking fluid be poured into the petrol tank in order to scrape by its fourth attempt at its NCT.

Or that flight you don’t really need to take, or the fact that an open fire is the only thing you really live for in winter. As you stand over your kid’s lunchbox at 7.30am, debating using cling wrap versus tin foil because their sandwich doesn’t fit in any of your knackered containers, ’til you just shove it in loose and hope for the best.

Under all this eco weight, sometimes you just think: What’s the point? As you fret over your minimal beef consumption, China and the US chug out carbon by the billions of tonnes, and multinationals hoover up our green spaces for another energy-guzzling warehouse for their information guzzling servers, your efforts to save that one ladybird that accidentally woke up in December because you turned the heating up too high just seems laughable.

On Kickstarter, I recently came across a newly, fully funded board game called Migration Mars, which allows players to build colonies and gobble up land on the red planet in a future that imagines Martian land becoming the most valuable in the solar system.

At a time that could see the first commercial flights into space, there is no question that there are those who are already eyeing up the final frontier as just another real estate opportunity. So is the more pertinent question, not can we save this planet one KeepCup at a time, but if this is it, what would you do? Should you feverishly plant trees, raise bees and grow your own veg? Why not?

But there is no guarantee it’s going to save you. If this is it, then shouldn’t we drink in all the joys that this wondrous planet we’ve been privileged enough to live on has afforded us? I don’t want to view the end of days from a half-closed curtain – I want to sap that last bit of air travel I’m allowed and see the places that may, like me, have their days numbered.

I want to stand under the aurora borealis, take in the full breadth of an African sky, journey down the Nile to marvel at the Sphynx, eat in the restaurant that Sicilian detective Montalbano always goes to where the sea comes in under your feet and you drink crisp cold wine and suck in enormous plates of pasta. I want to know what it feels like to have a soul mate.

You see, the danger is, in our desperate attempts to keep on living, we may just miss the whole point of life altogether. So, as the song says, “If that’s all there is… then let’s keep dancing. Let’s bring out the booze and have a ball.” There may be those who will get a ticket to Mars – they can have it. If I go down with this ship, I will be looking at the stars, not populating them.

Illustration by Ciara Coogan.

This article originally appeared in the Volume 2 issue of IMAGE Magazine.