If you’ve stumbled across this website, you may have realized that I’m sort of a fan of end-of-the-world type things. Post-apocalyptic things. Conspiracy theories. Doomsday forecasts. Those signs you always see outside big cities that warn that “HELL IS WAITING” or something along those lines (they’re usually right before porn stores). Anyway, I eat that stuff up.
Why? I’m not really sure. I wasn’t a particularly paranoid child. My guess is that it happened somewhere in my teenage years when I realized the world was a HIDEOUS, AWFUL PLACE AND THAT EVERYBODY WAS CRUEL AND THAT ADULTS HAVE ONLY ONE PURPOSE: TO KILL FREE EXPRESSION. I suspect most young people feel this way at some point. Maybe we grow out of it. Maybe, like most things, we learn to live with it, like a chronic health condition, and gradually over time stop remembering why we were fighting everyone anyway. We become the machine. We follow the status quo. We look back on ourselves and say, “If I’d only known how easy I had it then.”
But there’s always something bigger looming, threatening to terrorize. When I was young it was my parents. Finals. My empty gas tank. Now it’s bills, and work, and deadlines. And my empty gas tank. Always another roadblock to what? Freedom? Peace of mind? Isn’t that what we all want?
This other day I was caught in a severe storm, and let me tell you, I hate the term “severe storm” because it in no way demonstrates how apocalyptic-like the situation really is – the sky turns black, then bright white with lighting that never seems to stop. The thunder is pissed-off and unrelenting. Then the rain. Then the hail. Then a mix of it, turning sideways.
My husband had run into Home Depot for something, which meant that I was trapped outside in the Kia, alone, during the worst of it. As the wind started shoving the car from side to side, I became progressively more freaked out. I started thinking of how small I am, how small we all are really. Okay, first I thought “Holy crap I’m going to die – was that a body that just hit my car – no it was a shopping cart – cars are the worst place to be in a tornado – I need to find a ditch – ohshitohshitohshit…” Then I thought about how small we are. You can do anything and everything to try to direct your path in life, to be safe, to strive for health or wealth or glory, when at any time a lightning bolt could take you out.
My point is this: the world is a dangerous place with or without manmade barriers, and at the end of the day we’re all just trying to survive. Dystopian stories recognize this world. They magnify it, highlighting injustice and persecution and mistrust. They put us on a journey through it, and give us hope that our struggles are not in vain.
Isn’t that what we’re all looking for?