I have to admit, I was a little disappointed when I woke up on Dec. 22 and the world was still here, because that meant I had to go Christmas shopping.
I'd been putting off that task just in case the world really did come to a crashing halt. And considering how busy the malls and stores were, it seems like a lot of other people waited until the end of the world prediction passed before they went shopping.
Another reason I was hoping for the end of the world was because my family and I went on a trip to Disney World recently and we haven't paid for it yet. If the end of the world had come, our trip to Disney would have been absolutely free!
I was also hoping that the end of the world would put an end to the Detroit Lions' dreadful season. If the world had ended when it was supposed to, the Lions' season would have ended at the same time as every other team. Instead, there are several teams going to the playoffs and the Lions are done until next year.
In the weeks leading up to end of the world deadline, I actually changed my behavior and lifestyle for the event. For example, I stopped exercising. Well, I didn't actually exercise before the looming end of the world, but I planned on exercising — so what I actually did was to stop planning to exercise.
Since the world was ending, I ate and drank whatever I wanted. I ate steaks with plenty of fat marbled into the soft, pink meat. I ate lots of bacon, doughnuts with gooey centers, and potato chips and french fries replaced green beans and carrot sticks.
I also ate up all the Christmas cookies my wife had baked, because I didn't want to leave any of them behind.
I also drank plenty of beer. Not the cheap stuff either. I drank heavy, dark, frothy beer that made me forget all about the world coming to an end.
Now that the world didn't end, I'm glad I didn't do something stupid like start smoking cigars again, a habit I gave up two years ago. And I didn't quit my job, give all my money away or purchase a Lexus. However, I did hold off paying any bills that were dated beyond Dec. 22 as if I'd be able to use that money if the world really did implode.
As the end of the world drew near, I found myself in a pretty good mood. I stopped planning for the future and I lived life day-to-day and moment-to-moment. I slept really soundly. I stopped worrying about money, work or what others thought of me.
Since the world was ending and everyone was going to perish with me, I had no concerns about leaving a legacy or building an inheritance. Heck, I didn't even care if I had life insurance or not — nobody would collect it anyway.
I found myself humming to myself. I smiled at people, said hello to strangers and held the door for others. I dropped extra change in the bell ringers' buckets. For a few weeks, I was truly happy and at piece with the complete collapse of civilization.
In the waning hours leading up to the end of the world, I started wondering how it all would end. I imagined a tree in the Amazon rainforest taking a mighty blow and falling heavily to earth. I thought maybe that tree was the one that would represent humanity going too far. I speculated that maybe there weren't enough trees left to produce enough oxygen to sustain life on Earth, and we'd all take one last collective gasp for air and there'd be nothing left to fill our collective lungs.
In a thousand years, a distant civilization would find Earth, see all of our bones lying around and theorize what happened to us — much like we still wonder about the demise of the ancient Mayans.
I was talking to a co-worker in the days leading up to the end of the world, and he saw a report suggesting that solar flares could end the Earth. He said fireballs would shoot out of the sky and burn up the Earth like a marshmallow.
I liked that idea, since I live in Michigan and work in a cold meat locker. Going down in a quick blast of heat seemed like a good way to go.
I didn't even worry about my family because I imagined us going "poof!" like a matchstick, and then holding hands waiting with millions of others for the gates of heaven to open — much like we waited at the gates of the Magic Kingdom a few weeks ago.
Well, as you know, the world did not end. The Earth is still spinning on its axis and revolving around the sun, and the sun is not hurling fireballs in our direction. I frantically finished my Christmas shopping and I'm back to eating green beans and carrot sticks, trying to lose the 10 pounds I gained while celebrating the end of the world.
I'm back to being myself, which is sad. Now I have to pay for that Disney trip, keep up with my life insurance premiums and start planning to exercise again.
The end-of-the-world prediction made me carefree, easygoing and pleasant. And now that it is behind us, I'm going to miss it — because, for three glorious weeks, I truly lived like I was dying.
— By Grant Berry, Tribune community columnist