It was supposed to happen on May 21, 2011 and now I believe it has changed to October 21, 2011. Regardless, my end times in Eugene occur on July 17. Earlier today, I had just finished rollerblading down by the river and was sitting by my car in the sunshine, high on post-exercise endorphins. As I took off my rollerblades to switch back into my sandals, I just felt happy. And it got me thinking about the end times.
I think I’ve been subconsciously thinking about the end times for a while now, but it wasn’t until today, sitting by my car, that I had this realization. While home in California for the Fourth of July weekend, I awoke early one morning from a terrible dream. I dreamt that I was in my hometown and there was a festival going on around the plaza. I was talking with friends and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. There was even a Crabs baseball game going on nearby. It is important to point out that my hometown is one that prides itself heavily on being green and loving the earth. It’s enough to drive you crazy sometimes, that is, if I didn’t secretly love it so much. There is even one man who claims to produce no more than two bags of garbage from his household each year. Now, that is dedication. However, on this day in my dream, it didn’t matter how eco-conscious we all were. When the end times came, they just came. All of a sudden, little pellets began to fall quickly from the sky. At first, we almost thought that they were little rockets and that we were in the midst of a war. We soon realized, however, that it was actually some rather fierce acid rain. It began to pour, falling faster and faster, and when it would hit anyone’s skin, it would burn right through it. It was utterly terrifying. We began to run, gathering up as many other people as we could, to the basement of a large building where I thought we would all be safe. By the time we all got in there, the streets were flooded with acid. All of the power was out and we just stood, huddled in the room, helpless. We had no idea what would come next. It was out of our control. We stood in a room of uncertainty, as the end times truly began to take over. At this point, I woke up.
I spent most of the day with this underlying fear in my chest. The dream had really gotten to me. I kept wanting to know what happened. What did we do to save my hometown? Did we survive? Was our firm alliance with the “think globally, act locally” theory not enough? What did my dream mean? Was it trying to tell me that I should switch my passion from ending poverty to stopping climate change? After a couple of days, I managed to just let it go, although I did find myself walking a little more and driving a little less.
I let it go, that is, until today when it all became clear. The good news is that I can keep my interest on ending homelessness. I do not believe that the dream was so much about climate change, as it was just change in general and the end times — or the end of an era. For the last five years, I have been in the bubble of academia. I have been safe in my beautiful college town with a pretty manageable drive to home if I ever needed to go. It has been wonderful. Yes, I have popped out of the bubble from time to time for internships in Atlanta and New York and travels to Greece and Israel, but beyond that, things have had a constant. I had made a home for myself in Eugene and could relax into its moderate reliability.
In June, I graduated and instantly felt the change. Walking on campus, something just felt different within me. My relationship with its lovely landscape and stoic buildings had altered. The weeks following, I was in limbo. What was going to happen next? What should I be doing? Then, I was offered a job in the D.C. metro area. I would be moving within a month to the other side of the country — a new environment, new people, new stories, new goals, new everything. I am physically and emotionally feeling this change, this end of an era in my life.
In my dream, we couldn’t stop the climate change. It didn’t matter how safe we had felt in our eco-friendly bubble for so long. Change was happening. The dream ended with us all in a state of uncertainty. When the end of an era occurs, no one can truly predict what will come in the next chapter. There are hints here and there, dreams, hopes, rough outlines of what the next page could bring, but it is predominantly left up to you to simply have the courage to turn the page.
I have been pretty scared about all of the change happening in my life right now. My utter excitement has been lined with worry and stress and I think this became quite evident in my dream. However, as I began to drive away from the park today after rollerblading, I rolled down the window so that I could feel the air on my skin and breathe in the warmth of the day. I had a big smile on my face and in my mind, I thought the line, “Who said the end times have to be bad?” It was at that moment that the final piece was added in my chain of thoughts and all of the chemicals and various hormones in my body triggered the receptors in my brain to link it all together with the summary of — don’t be afraid of the change. It will all be ok. It won’t be acid rain if I don’t let it be. It will simply be the end times that lead me into the next leg of the journey.
And so, now, I sit here in the Fifth Street Market courtyard, taking in the beauty. I’m eating blackberries as if they were the world’s most decadent fruit, letting every flavor explode in my mouth and dance through my taste buds. I’m sipping iced tea for a lovely contrast to the heat of the sun. I’m wrapping myself in the comfort of this place I have frequented over the past five years, as if it is a good friend that I will send postcards to. I’m sitting and marveling at how enchanting the end times can be.