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For anyone who has had a catastrophic event in his or her life, the end of the world as they knew it has already come and gone. I have to admit, although much of the news leading up to December 21st was more than horrific, I was pretty relieved when the day came and went â€“ and we didnâ€™t.
Although I scoffed audibly when anyone asked me if I believed the â€śprophecy,â€ť I was just a little bit sorry I wasnâ€™t going to get to continue eating CheetosÂ®, HĂ¤agen-DazsÂ®, and Twinkies like there was no tomorrow. For Twinkies, the idea that there may be no tomorrow was even more pronounced, although recent news is saying those long-lasting treats might be saved. At any rate, it’s an entirely different sort of apocalypse for sure.
Even before everyone was paying such close attention to the Mayan calendar (or lack thereof), Iâ€™d been giving their culture a lot of thought since Iâ€™ve been including Chia seeds and cacao powder in my morning breakfast smoothies for quite some time. One recent morning when the gloom and doom stuff had been recycling endlessly on the news, for some reason I had the presence of mind (this doesnâ€™t happen often), to read the packages and marveled at the marketing techniques used.
The Chia seeds are purported to be an Aztec superfood. The cacao powder, also considered a superfood, is supposedly the brainchild of the Mayans. This may explain why they didnâ€™t complete their calendar â€“ they were high on chocolate.
This struck me as pretty darned funny when I realized that both of these civilizations are, how can I put this delicately… pretty much kaput. So why would I think itâ€™s a good idea to follow in their â€śfoodsteps?â€ť And just who is it thatâ€™s determined ingesting chia and cacao is any better for us than the real food of the gods, the aforementioned CheetosÂ®, HĂ¤agen-DazsÂ®, and Twinkies?
Actually, every time I include Chia seeds in my smoothie I have a moment where I think about the advertisements for Chia Pets and imagine that I now have a Chia gut. I also wonder why it never occurred to me to invest in all-things-Chia, since it appears the demand is quite high. I think this proves that the Aztecs didnâ€™t actually disappear, they got rich and moved to Miami.
So our modern day Mayan end-of-time came and went with crickets chirping, and thatâ€™s a good thing, which got me thinking, exactly what did happen to the Mayan empire? It seems no one knows for sure, but here are the most commonly held beliefs:
Some believe that by the ninth century the Maya had exhausted the environment around them to the point that it could no longer sustain a very large population.
Other Maya scholars argue that constant warfare among competing city-states led the complicated military, family (by marriage) and trade alliances between them to break down, along with the traditional system of dynastic power. As the stature of the holy lords diminished, their complex traditions of rituals and ceremonies dissolved into chaos.
Finally, some catastrophic environmental change â€“ like an extremely long, intense period of drought â€“ may have wiped out the Classic Maya civilization.
Hmmmm â€¦ now thereâ€™s something to contemplate. Anything about those possibilities sound just a tad bit too familiar? Does anyone remember their high school history teacher repeatedly urging everyone to pay attention to history because it tends to repeat itself? (If my high school history teacher was still alive, heâ€™d be so proud of me for even remembering that!)
I sometimes wonder what we actually do learn from past mistakes. I suppose I shouldnâ€™t be too surprised that entire populations fail to heed history, when on an individual basis I have a hard time remembering the lessons life has taught me. Especially if it isnâ€™t a lesson I really wanted to learn. This probably explains why I insist upon buying dresses with horizontal stripes â€“ I mean really â€“ youâ€™d think Iâ€™d know better.
So as this New Year unfolds, I am reminding everyone â€“ itâ€™s a good thing to remember the lessons of the past, but just be sure you donâ€™t let the Mayans ruin a perfectly good day!