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Adele Elliott: Lessons from Chicken Little

 

Adele Elliott

 

The sky is falling! The sky is falling! Well, not really. But, when the heavens seem unable to hold birds, and the lakes and oceans cannot support sea life, it is not difficult to make the leap to doomsday. 

 

It was bad enough when blackbirds plummeted to Earth in Arkansas, then in Louisiana. Millions of fish died in the Chesapeake Bay and as far away as Vietnam. The list seems endless; ducks are dying in Minnesota, bats in Texas and crickets in almost every U.S. state. 

 

In the past eight months 95 mass wildlife die-offs have been recorded in North America alone (msnbc.com, 1-12-11). Biologists are not worried. They say these events are common and unrelated. This is little comfort to non-scientists. 

 

And then there''s that Mayan calendar thing. This civilization was extremely advanced in mathematics, engineering and astronomy. Their calendar, which spanned centuries, stops abruptly on December 21, 2012. I won''t even go into the predictions by many different Native American tribes. Let''s just say that Nostradamus had no monopoly on prophecy. 

 

The current big news is that "The Rapture" will occur on May 21, 2011. Tricky business, this foretelling of the end of the world. It''s been done thousands of times before. Alas, all were wrong. 

 

I am a strong believer in omens. Interpreting them, now that''s the hard part. 

 

In The Golden Triangle, there are reasons to be uneasy. That rare Christmas Day snow was lovely, but too quickly a real stick-to-the-ground "blizzard" closed down the entire area. I knew this winter would be severe because my boy-cat, Loa, grew so much extra fur that he looked like the Cowardly Lion after his Emerald City beauty parlor experience. 

 

My dogs are barking more -- at nothing I can see. Whistles from the trains that circle Columbus sound closer, with a banshee wail that rolls across the tracks and shrieks through the Southside. Twice last week I came home to discover a strange black cat perched like a gargoyle on the corner of my roof. Perhaps these are all portents, or maybe they mean nothing at all. 

 

In so many ways, worlds end and begin many times over. When we graduate, get married or divorced, those are endings of a very personal "world." Usually, they are also the start of a "new" world, one where we enter a new job, or seek new relationships. Sometimes we take the first steps on a spiritual journey, a passage where the old "self" is discarded like excess baggage. 

 

I''m not terribly worried about living in what may be the last days of this planet. Truthfully, if I did believe those dire predictions I would probably get a bit lax on my credit card payments. Why pay bills that will not exist next year? 

 

Neither am I concerned about the possibility of the actual end of the world. From all we are told, the afterlife sounds like a great place to be. I imagine it is a sort of peaceable kingdom, lions lying down with lambs, and lots of fruit and honey. (Of course, if it is heaven there will be chocolate, as well.) 

 

Chicken Little may have been partially correct. Perhaps the sky is falling. But, that may be a good thing. I welcome a new world under the same old sky.

 

Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina.

 

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