What If the World Doesn’t End?

Jehova’s Witnesses have predicted the end of the world four times. In 1914, 1918, 1925, and 1975. But each year, New Year’s Eve came and went, and the sun still rose on January 1st. Eventually, they shifted to indefinite pessimism: “It’s bound to happen sometime, we just don’t know exactly when.” The false predictions were not good for membership numbers.

When I had my last two wisdom teeth removed, I prepared myself for weeks. “It’ll probably hurt. You’ll likely be out for the rest of that week. Don’t expect to just keep rolling.” But the surgery came and went, and as I walked home, I did not feel particularly destroyed. Thanks to a new blood plasma treatment, my cheeks didn’t swell, and the pain also wasn’t bad. I didn’t work for the rest of the day, but the remainder of the week was mostly normal. Like New Year’s Eve for Jehova’s Witnesses, it was almost a bit disorienting.

Sometimes, it’s good to expect the worst — or at least not the very best — and prepare for it accordingly. If you’re not going to do anything about it, you might as well hope for something good. But what if the world doesn’t end? What will you do if things go better than imagined? That, too, deserves a backup plan. Extra time and energy are the rarest presents we receive. Let’s use them wisely.

Don’t give the world too little credit, and just as for its darker sides, don’t let its benevolence catch you too off guard. There’s always a next move to make, and only if we expect both the good and the bad will we always stand on the right springboard to dive into our next adventure from.