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May 21, 2011 Elephant

The End is Hi.

...As you all know, the end of the world is coming in a few hours' time. It's at 6 pm, today, May 21st. Depending on what time zone you live in, you're already all gone to heaven. This being an elephant audience, rather, you're all in hell, or you've been left behind on earth—enjoy the cars and grocery stores and looting and nice homes we left behind. My bike combo is 34241.

~

We've covered the Rapture in more detail than it deserves, just like all other media. But we've done so for slightly different reasons: because we like to have fun with ignorance and judge-happy fearmongerers, for one. And, because, we like to represent the sort of kindly Christianity that, while common, isn't good at getting media attention. Compassion doesn't make for reader-clicks. Prove me wrong. Go ahead, you know you'd rather click the word sex than the word compassion (we'll let you know the numbers, next week).

Over the last week or so, I've traveled to NYC (for the first time in 3 years), to Halifax (to visit my mom for the first time in 6 or 7 years, apparently), and now to Virginia (first time ever, to visit my grandma Carol and Aunt Liz).

It feels like a victory lap: for the last three years, seeing the tidal wave of new media rise above our elephant magazine, I huddled over my laptop and just sat in Boulder and worked, worked, worked as my mandala collapses down around me. I love my work, but at the age of 36 I haven't traveled outside of the US, beyond Montreal or Halifax. So this last week, getting out of the Boulder Bubble, has been a joy.

The news is mixed, out here. In the three years since I was last in NYC, it feels safer. There's bike lanes everywhere, and cyclists filling them. There's pedestrian happy plazas where once there were agro taxis, blaring at one another. There's hundreds of vegan, organic, raw restaurants, and hundreds of wifi cafés, where once there were three or four I could find. And it's safe—you can walk home at night, as a turista, with laptop, iphone, wallet, all alone. It's an inspiring example of the creation of a more enlightened society.

Halifax, on the other hand, is a city with a choice. It has all the gifts: ocean, heartbreakingly beautiful tradition (bagpipes, boats)...and yet there's no fish left to fish. There's empty storefronts and out of work, broken men. There's no bike lanes, and they're leveling historic buildings because skyscrapers—built cheaply without artchitectural love of their forebears—will supposedly bring more business downtown. The money, and the people, continue to move to the suburbs. But there's more great cafes, and cafes spell c-o-m-m-u-n-i-t-y. There's a LEED-built (but poorly designed) farmers market on a pier. There's Windhorse Farm (literally best tour of my life, thanks Will: it hosts weddings, events, makes logging responsible and sustainable). And the Public Gardens and Commons and Citadel and ocean and statues of Winston and Robbie still break my heart, in a good way. And thanks to my childhood Dharma Brat pal I got to see The Hub & borrow his bike for a few days, and zoom about with the ocean mist in my face. I loved it.

Virginia, on the other hand, is downright depressing. Flying in, I've never seen more lovely, rich, green land and red earth. It makes Vermont look ugly. Farms everywhere.

Then—mountaintops, removed. Mining. And only poor people to complain that their water's turned to poison.

And now I'm staying in the suburbs and all anyone talks about is how we should drill here drill now, gas prices (meanwhile, bringing home 40 plastic bags from Walmart. What you think plastic bags are made of?!). And how (President, an honorific they skip over) Obama and Big Government are the problem. Perhaps their media bubble isn't telling them: the corporations, including Big Oil, are reaping record profits and taxpayer money (god-knows-why), while supporting political candidates directly, thanks to President Bush's team in the Supreme Court. This isn't about politics: this is about the fundamental undermining of what was only 50 years ago the strongest middle class in history. And yet we blame Government for doing too much, when, generally, it's in the pockets of the very rich—who are different from you and I, as F. Scott Fitzgerald pointed out a few years back—and it's busy doing too little to protect We the People.

The suburban life is killing us: it's putting us to sleep. "Buddha" means "Awakened One." That's all. Our task is to put down the remote, unhook ourselves from the opiate of the masses, stop eating crap, stop talking about our weight, exercise, get outside, eat old fashioned real food, talk to one another instead of arguing, and get involved in real life instead of obsessing about the end of the world or the other 10 bullshiite stories of the week (Snooki, Sheen, whatever...they're media fast food—addictive, bad for us, fun, forgettable).

Because if we don't wake up and eat right and get outside, there'll really be no world left.

~Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis
editor-in-chief, host
elephantjournal.com, Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis

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