Dear Frank Warren,

We’ve never met before, but I was in the audience at your keynote at SXSW in March. SXSW 2008 was the eighth SXSW I’ve attended, and I’ve been to many panels and many keynotes, but yours has been the only one during which I cried.

SXSW is often a rather stressful event for me, so this year at SXSW I gave myself a set of rules to keep myself from getting depressed, from getting too stressed out, from–well, from crying. But I didn’t cry during your keynote for any of my usual reasons, and I didn’t cry any other times during the conference, so I’m going to give myself a pass and call this year’s SXSW a success.

Your keynote made me cry for the same reason I had to stop visiting your website. You may not be too happy to hear about that, but it’s not your fault. PostSecret is a wonderful project, but I had to stop reading the website because it made me too sad. My small corner of the world–my job, my city, my hobbies, my friends, my family–is about all I can handle sometimes, and reading PostSecret reminded me that the world is much larger than I’ll ever be able to understand. Every single person has their own small corner of the world like mine, a corner they probably feel like they can’t handle any more than I can, and all those corners with their beautiful and terrible and painful secrets are sometimes too much for me to bear. I’ll never know any of these people, and the enormity of that frightens me a little.

The secrets also worry me because they make me wonder about the people I do know. Do my friends or family members have terrible secrets they’ll never tell me? How well can you ever really know another person?

Here’s the thing, though: that concept goes both ways. I’m as complicated as any other human being, aren’t I? How well do my friends and family know me? And that’s the other reason I cried during your keynote. You see, Frank Warren, I have a secret.

When I told my therapist about my secret, I expected him to look surprised. I thought he would put down his Diet Dr. Pepper, lean forward in his chair and say, “Really? Tell me more.” But he didn’t. Instead he just said, “Oh. Yeah.” I get the feeling that I share this secret with others.

I guess my secret can best be described as a debilitating, all-encompassing fear of an apocalypse. But it’s not the kind of apocalypse you see in movies where Bill Pullman is the president and Jeff Goldblum is the scientist and the aliens/dinosaurs/meteors are coming to kill us all. It’s the kind where we’re going to run out of oil, we’re going to run out of food, we’re going to run out of money, we’re going to run out of places to keep all the people and garbage and stuff we’ve created.

When gripped with apocalypse fear, I run through the same scenario over and over again in my head. It’s pretty ridiculous; are you ready to hear it? Okay. In the apocalyptic scenario, I’m sixty years old, and somehow I’m still living in the same apartment I do now. (I don’t really like this apartment, and I know I won’t be living in it when I’m sixty. Hell, it probably won’t even be here when I’m sixty. But that’s the scenario, so I go with it.) I’m sixty, and I live in this apartment, and BAM! The world runs out of gasoline, electricity, and food, all in the span of hours. There’s anarchy outside, and I’m alone in my apartment. Most of my friends don’t live nearby, so I have no way to get to them if I don’t want to walk really, really far. But then I think, hey! I have some gas left in my car, probably enough to get me to a friend’s house, and then we can all go find food together. So I walk out to the parking lot where my 1996 Acura is still there and functional, and BAM! Someone kills me for a tank of gas.

I know that what I’ve done here is taken all my worst fears and combined them into a single ten-minute play. I’m afraid I’ll never live in a place I actually like, I’m afraid I’ll be chained to my car forever, I’m afraid I’ll always be a fifteen-minute drive away from my friends, I’m afraid we’re going to run out of everything all at once and there’ll be anarchy, and I’m afraid my death will be painful, lonely, and meaningless.

Sometimes the play has a different ending. Sometimes my apartment neighbors and I band together in the crisis. We used to be strangers, but now we’re friends by necessity, and we protect each other and look for food together and take turns going down to the creek to get water. We fend off hostile groups from other apartments with pointy sticks and old kitchen knives, and at night one of us always keeps watch while the others sleep. It’s okay for awhile, but then I die of heat stroke and sunburn.

Or sometimes I manage to walk all the way to a friend’s house, and my friends and I band together to help each other stay safe and get food and water and sleep. But then someone from a rival group kills our leader, and we’re all so despondent and directionless that we disband, and then someone kills me for a tank of gas while I’m dying of heat stroke and sunburn.

But usually I’m killed for the gas right away. I’ve begun to use the phrase, “when someone kills me for a tank of gas” as shorthand for the whole thing. “My inability to be productive won’t really matter when someone kills me for a tank of gas.” “It’s okay if I watch TV all day because it won’t make a difference when someone kills me for a tank of gas.” “This problem will seem insignificant by the time someone kills me for a tank of gas.”

The shorthand is necessary, though, because not a day goes by when I don’t think about my apocalypse fear. I can’t go to the grocery store without imagining what it might look like with empty shelves. I can’t check my mailbox without imagining all my junk mail in a landfill. I can’t visit Houston without imagining it flooded with seawater from melted ice. I can’t look at paper plates and plastic forks without thinking about our “consumption-based culture in which disposability is an added value.” I can’t look at my coworkers and acquaintances without thinking, “Do they know? Can they see it coming?” My corner of the world may look normal on the outside, but inside my head it’s covered with a sticky film of impending disaster.

My apocalypse fear came to a head last summer and fall. I was having at least one anxiety attack per day, usually while driving home from work, usually related to the fact that I work in a far-flung suburb of a city without a lot of reliable public transportation. I would find myself paralyzed with guilt at all the gas I was wasting getting to and from work, and equally paralyzed at the thought of having to ride both the bus and my bicycle to the office every day. Then I would feel guilty about not wanting to ride the bus, and then guilty about wasting the gas, and on and on until sometimes I wasn’t really watching the road anymore. “That’s okay,” I would think to myself. “This won’t matter when someone kills me for a tank of gas.”

(When I find myself thinking this way, I’m reminded of a comment someone left on a post I wrote on my website awhile back. I’d had a bad day, and I wrote that it seemed to me like nothing I did was ever going to matter in the grand scope of human existence, so what the hell was the point. Someone named John wrote, “The sun’s going to go out in a million years, and here I am going to work like a sucker.” It was exactly how I felt that day, and it was exactly how I felt last fall.)

I didn’t tell anyone about my fear for a really long time. Running out of food and gasoline and electricity and potable water is a scary topic, and I didn’t want to depress my friends. I was afraid that they’d hear about what I was going through and say, “Alison, I don’t really want to talk about that right now.” Worse, I was afraid they would tell me that I was wrong, that all that stuff is never going to happen, that it’s pointless to worry about it. As I’m pretty sure it’s all going to happen at some point, hearing that would only have made me feel even more alone. And I already felt really alone. The collapse of Western civilization isn’t something I’d ever heard anyone talk about in casual conversation, so naturally I assumed that everyone else a) didn’t know, or b) knew but was handling it much better than I was.

Things all came to a head in December. I’d been obsessing over the apocalypse since June or July, I hadn’t told anyone, and it was driving me so insane that I was probably thisclose to buying a gun and putting all my savings under my mattress. A few weeks before Christmas, I had a friend over. I don’t remember what we were talking about, but I guess I couldn’t hold my worry and fear in anymore, and all of a sudden I was telling him that we were running out of food and water and electricity and someone was going to kill me for a tank of gas. To my great surprise, he didn’t tell me he didn’t want to talk about it, and he didn’t tell me my fears were unfounded. Instead he listened, and asked questions, and was generally sympathetic to what I was going through. I guess I don’t give my friends enough credit.

After I finally told someone about it, I started to feel a bit better. At SXSW I told another friend, who said that he thinks about it, too. Then I told another friend, who said that it’s something she and her mom have talked about. And that, Frank Warren, is why I think PostSecret is important, even if I can’t read it myself. To take your secret out of your own head and put it somewhere else is often the thing that separates you from insanity. I still see the world through empty shelves and plastic bags and non-renewable resources and the wasting, wasting, wasting of everything, but talking about it has made living in that world a little bit easier.

Thank you.

Alison Headley

P.S. Other good has come out of this, too. I’m becoming much more aware of what I buy and what I throw away, I’ve mostly stopped eating meat, and I’m working on chipping away at my gas usage. It’s a slow process, but if I’ve learned anything from this, it’s that I won’t do anyone any good if I sit back and let it drive me insane.

P.P.S. I know that we’re not going to run out of food and water and oil all at the same time. I also know that thirty years from now is a debatable, perhaps even arbitrary, figure. My fears are just that, fears, and I don’t put them through an accuracy test before I let them take over.

P.P.P.S. I would never really buy a gun. You know that, right?

P.P.P.P.S. Thank you Ryan and Ariel.

34 thoughts on “Dear Frank Warren,

  1. Hey, don’t feel bad. I was planning on buying a gun in case I had to fight the fascist that have taken over the country in the next American revolution. Shar talked me out of it. I hope I don’t regret it. ;)

  2. I have a lot of the same thoughts (obviously, I guess?) but my emotional reaction is almost purely anger-based. like, if I want to have a family some day, it seems like it would be more responsible of me to go buy a plot of land where we at least have a hope of living off the grid and growing our own food and storing our own water. but, fuck that! that’s not how I pictured my adulthood! stupid america! ….etc.

  3. I think that with the wave of everyone kind of sort of wanting to be “green” in the past few years, it’s probably running more rampantly through people’s minds than ever. In my public life, I’m sort of intrigued by the apocalypse, and anytime it comes up in conversation, I tell people, “I’m the type of person who HAS to stop on a show about the apocalypse if I see it on the History Channel.” All of this Deep Impact, I Am Legend, Life After People stuff, I HAVE to watch it. And while I’m watching it, I think it’s fascinating. But what I haven’t told anyone is that every night I have trouble going to sleep because it’s all I can think about. At night, I am so hypersensitive to my own mortality, I just start ripping my hair out thinking about it. I know everyone has that phase when they’re teenagers because for the first time, they truly grasp death, but I don’t know what to make of it at this time in my life.

    But hey, if everyone IS secretly thinking about it, it’s got to come out at some point, right? And that means that we’ll actually DO something about it, right? Right?

  4. You know, every year I’m convinced I’m gonna die in the following year, and always for something arbitrarily meaningless. I think it gives me comfort to think that my exeunt will be senseless. I’m the go-to guy for lots of stuff–in work, in my personal life–and maybe it just makes me feel okay that my shuffle will happen without the need for an IT ticket or bug fix or a late night phone call wherein I give advice on how to deal with confusion over whether or not the boy really likes her. Just disappearing, for no reason, kind of gives me peace.

  5. two things:
    I’m glad I’m not the only one. thank you for sharing
    I think this is why I liked Jericho so much…like it was a very important lesson plan.

    okay, three things,
    as far as “the grand scope of human existence”, I’m trying to convince myself that all I can do is try to improve my little corner (and I’m counting any small improvements like making other people laugh or helping them in some way or even things you mention like chipping away at gas usage and not buying disposable crap). I also try to remind myself of the butterfly in central park theory .
    we never no how big a difference the positive little things we do will make. even just a smile, even just a good thought/prayer/wish.
    however, I will admit that I’m not listening to myself very well right now.

  6. I’m so glad you posted this. I feel like I am the only one who feels this way. Lately I’ve been worked up to the point of tears about how I’ll never be old enough to have grand children and how it would be stupid to have children when the world is just going to end.

    I want to compost when I have nothing to use compost for. I can’t drive my car without feeling like overcome with guilt. I recycle and reuse everything I possibly can and have even started turning what used to be trash into craft projects. Not to mention that paying my bills instead of spending my money on something fun just seems annoying with this mentality.

  7. Hey, Alison. I am 60-years old. I do have a gun. I also have twenty acres of forested land with a very small cabin. I split my time between the city and the country. I’m happier than a chipmunk.

    We’re all going to die. In a hundred years no one will remember that we were ever alive. So it goes. The meaninglessness is kind of liberating. Think about it.

  8. I am moving across the country, back to where we never have to drive the car. And all the food comes from that side of the country, so it’s much easier to eat locally (although all the agriculture in a veritable desert is another issue all together…). I get upset with my husband when he uses more than his allotment of plastic grocery bags (he is allowed ONE per day – to be used for trash and kitty litter. Although now there is an additional allowance for dirty cloth diapers that need to be brought home from various places. One plastic grocery bag a day is still A LOT.)

    I am obsessed with waste and excess, but I know my consumption is still over the top. And that’s what really bothers me.

  9. Now you just made me cry–but that’s not a bad thing. Why is there such comfort in knowing that others are afraid of the same things you are? I’ve never termed it “apocalypse fear” but the fear of not surviving has threaded itself through my brain for as long as I can remember. It’s why I take comfort in things like this:

    Admit it. It made you laugh.

  10. Hi,

    I stumbled across your site from Unstoppable Robot Ninja, and just wanted to echo what you say, because I too have apocalypse thoughts, though without the graphic overlay of ‘after’ images. It is a pretty persistent fear though, always lingering in the back of my head, present at every turn. On good days, it can sometimes be liberating, when I think, “Hey, if we run out, we *have* to come up with another, more sustainable way, right? An end can also be a beginning.” On bad days, I think, “Oh hell, I’m going to be one of the first to die… I have no survival skills.” And in-between, I am taking the small steps many others seem to be taking, reducing carbon footprints and finding new perspectives. Thanks for posting this.

  11. I also am convinced that western civilization will come to an end soon. I don’t feel panic when I think about this but more of a calm curiosity. It will be inconvenient, yes, but also kind of romantic. To me it’s like reverting to a simpler time. And I can’t look at human interaction, such as people shopping in a grocery store, people receiving directions on the street, people drinking beer at a bar, without thinking “How does/did this work in a simpler time?”

  12. Funny, I just finished reading Postsecret before coming to your site and thought to myself…”whew, that was a difficult week to read!”

  13. I don’t know any boy who grew up in the 80’s that didn’t have a near-constant Red Dawn loop running in their head. That was our childhood apocalypse — either invasion by the Russians or nuclear war. I don’t know what the usual apocalypse was before that, but I can only assume people had one. I mean, the basic gist of Judeo-Christian thought is fairly apocalyptic. There’s a great battle, some are saved, some are not. At least they were kind enough to include one possible positive outcome, where you go up to heaven and gambol with the elect. Today’s enviro-apocalypse doesn’t seem to offer much in that vein. I guess some people imagine there’ll be a lovely springing up of local organic subsistence co-ops, but by and large, the pop culture view seems to be more Mad Max than Slow Food.

    The general theme of all of our collective fantasy-apocalypses, when you step back a bit and squint at them, is the fear of dying alone. Or, I guess I would say, the difficulty we have in accepting the certain knowlege that we will all die alone, which translates itself into fear.

    Look at your basic apocalypse story arc: Everything’s normal -> something dreadful happens -> most other people are wiped out -> the word is different and scary -> you die alone.

    Now put yourself in the boots of someone really old. The world of your childhood will always be the comforting baseline, the world you understand. Then along comes the horseless carriage, and McDonalds, and coke in cans, and skateboard punks, and the internet and cable TV and satellite phones and the global panopticon and Fox News and facial recognition cameras and… well, I imagine it gets a little disorienting. And in all likelihood most of the people you know go away one by one. And eventually, you’re alone in a bed surrounded by what are probably strangers for all intents and purposes, in a greater or lesser degree of pain, and you know you’re going to die soon and no one can tell you what happens then or hold your hand on the way.

    I mean, that’s sort of the best possible outcome. That’s someone with a long and full life, right there, dying in a bed surrounded by family. That’s what we’re supposed to hope for.

    It is a wonder, really, that more people aren’t reduced to quivering jelly on a permanent basis by the absolutely maniacally cruel knowledge of death. And not only is it a certainty, but it’s also an uncertain certainty. Like the knowledge that your big brother IS DEFINITELY waiting around a corner to jump out and scare the hell out of you doesn’t make it any less terrifying when he does, because you never know which corner.

    I’m actually more afraid that there will be some apocalypse and I will survive. I’m pretty sure I’ll be in the “shoot yourself when it gets bad enough” contingent.

    Also, good lord, the above is grim. I’m sorry. It’s kind of a grim subject, and I don’t have any special insights or answers.

    Also also: Don’t ever ever ever read The Road. Seriously. Don’t even think about it.

  14. I too have conjured images of some of the darker prospects facing humanity as our status quo activities run up against inevitable resource limitations. However, the great thing about being so wasteful, is that we have innumerable easy paths to conservation and efficient use of water, food, energy, minerals, etc. Collectively, we can make huge improvements in a very short time with minimal or no impact on quality of life (actually quality of life would probably improve). The missing element is motivation and community engagement. Americans are far too complacent and largely isolated to make the right decisions for the common good. The fact that you considered apocalypse “a secret” is a reflection of that reality. On the other hand, the fact that you ultimately revealed this concern for discussion and that so many people share the similar concerns is a great sign that we are primed to actually do something positive to address the issue. Fear and despair can only make things worse. It may be inevitable that some calamity (human caused or not) will befall us, but there is so much that can be done to improve the human situation for ourselves and future generations, that it is unacceptable to consider inaction. Learn, talk with others, act individually, act collectively. There are many examples of the resiliency of communities under stress. Juneau Alaska’s efforts following the loss of electrical transmission from their hydro plant is the most recent proof that 20%, 30%, 50% energy use reductions can be achieved in a matter of weeks without huge investments in new technology, just by altering wasteful use patterns. We can address any issue. We just need to build the will to act.

  15. I don’t think I am the same John that left that comment. I dont really remember last week, let alone the old version of your site. Wait, was that the green one with the banner picture of you sitting at a table?

    I originally wrote a big comment about Colony Collapse Disorder, and how in theory, that would wipe us all out before any threat that is main stream ever could. But then I deleted it, that would just be stupid of me.

    I want to help, I do not worsen the situation.

    I worried about the apocalypse also. I read survival books, and planned where I would go. At my Dad’s funeral last June, it all kind of made since. Right now is the only time that matters. We could die of a heart attack tonight, and never face someone killing us for gas during the apocalypse.

    See, my dad emailed me to tell me he wasn’t feeling well and asked if it would be ok to call me tomorrow instead of that night. The next day I got a call from my uncle to tell he had passed away.

    Life is unpredictable, and I now know that isn’t exactly cheery, but where it led me is. I wasted 31 years worrying about something 30 years from now. Instead, I should have enjoyed every moment I could. Every breath, every silent drive, every honey bee I see.

    The future is just an idea. It doesn’t exist, just like the past doesn’t exist, except in our minds. The only thing that exists is right now.

    I know that seems depressing in a sense, but it is actually liberating to forget dwelling on my past, to not worry about tomorrow, there is nothing I can do about it anyway. Try to find the happy place of today, of right now as you are reading this.

    Sorry, if that makes no sense at all to the fear of the apocalyptic doom.

  16. It seems lots of us have some version of “apocalypse fear,” although we all seem to experience it a little differently.

    For me it’s kind of a game I play. I’m an engineer, so I’m obsessed with having a back-up plan, a Plan B. Plan A is that the status-quo sticks around.

    What if society collapsed and I had no way to buy bread. What’s Plan B for bread? I can imagine that I could buy flour, and theoretically I could grind it and winnow it. And eggs, etc. But what about yeast? What’s my plan B for getting yeast? I mean, is it hard to grow? I guess it must occur naturally, but are some kinds toxic? I don’t know.

    So years ago I had a plan that I was going to keep a little stash of yeast. I did it for a few months, but eventually my fears fixed on something else, and I stopped. If society collapsed today, I would be yeast-less and therefore stuck with unleaven bread.

    That’s just one example. I could go on.

    Alison: you are among friends.

  17. I thought this was pretty much generational with us. We’ve grown up in the shadow of environmental and economic unsustainability in the same way our parents did with nuclear war. I’ve even gone so far as to startle my mom a bit by suggesting that maybe she shouldn’t sell our grandparents’ land when they eventually can’t take care of it anymore and need to move in with her, because it might be a good idea to have land in the family in 15 or 20 years. I can’t quite take it entirely seriously(maybe because if I did, I would have to contemplate living very differently, and I’m not at all sure if I could hack that if it came to it), and I’m always wary of slipping into survivalist nut or James Howard Kunstler territory, but it is something I’m taking into account when making my plans long-term. I’m actually pretty guilty and/or concerned about my impending move back to the rural Midwest, because it’s taking me from a car-free lifestyle that probably would be reasonably sustainable in such scenarios to a situation where I’ll have to rely on a car and big-box stores and such.

    Most everyone I know who I’ve talked to about it assumes that it’s going to all come spinning apart within our lifetime, or at very least that we’re not likely to enjoy nearly the sort of security or standard of living that our parents did. Hell, it’s already happening, in slow-motion, and the pace seems to be rather quickening the past 5 years or so. I guess that’s where I get off of the apocalypse train though, in that I don’t really think of it as a sudden thing, but more as an insidious, grinding sort of decline. Not with a bang, but a whimper, and all. Of course, that conveniently fits into the structure of my fears, since most of mine or more oriented around longterm inertia and failure to act and tragic-flaw sorts of scenarios. To each their own apocalypse.

  18. Howdy: Wheat is just grass. Grass is notoriously easy to grow. Finding wheat seed the first time around might be tricky, but you only have to do it once, if you’re smart.

    It’s amazing how many things we assume are complicated and difficult are really not.

    And I second the sourdough starter thing. I had one going for about a year, a while back. Good bread.

  19. I have pretty much the same anxiety and fears. One day recently, there was a thunderstorm and the power went out. My husband said, “what if that’s it and there is no more electricity? Society would pretty much collapse immediately, right?”

    Uh, thanks, honey.

  20. Well. Good. Thanks, everyone.

    Rusty and Jared: I do think that every generation has its own version of the apocalypse. Environmental meltdown, nuclear war, communists, whatever people were afraid of before that, are all sort of similar in that they each represent a defining fear. I try to think of it that way in the hopes that it’ll make me feel better, but then I think, “Communists and nuclear war didn’t kill us, but this environmental thing IS TOTALLY GOING TO KILL US.” I can’t convince myself that it isn’t going to happen in some form or another.

    Rusty: Yeah, I had a feeling about The Road.

  21. I just wanted to share my equivalent to “When someone kills me for a tank of gas.” I had a professor who had been an engineer on a nuclear sub and he would always make these comments about how he was glad he was old because by 2050 the world would be in chaos and the safest place would be on a Russian sub. He never really explained why it had to be a Russian sub. Anyway, my friends and I have since adopted phrases like, “It won’t matter when we’re living on a Russian sub,” “Better start checking ebay for a Russian sub,” “Hope you know how to drive a Russian sub,” etc.

  22. alison: Hey, at least when the environmental catastrophe age is over, you can look at the next thing and think “Communism and nuclear war didn’t kill us, the black plague didn’t kill us, global warming didn’t kill us… the [whatever new catastrophe] probably won’t either.”

    Frankly, I think we’re like roaches. I doubt anything could actually kill us.

    I am, however, totally putting solar panels on my house.

  23. I wonder if this is a common fear amongst our generation? My variation also takes place about thirty years from now, but I usually figure that by then we will have figured out an alternate fuel for our cars, so no one kills me for a tank of gas. Instead, i figure we will have severe rationing of food and water, and tight controls on air pollution and how much waste we create. I usually visualise it as being sort of like the world in The Handmaid’s Tale, except that we have a culture that has evolved to have rigid social norms and rules and laws around the food and water we eat and drink, instead of around sex and reproduction. It always seems really nightmarish. I visualise a lot of desperation and policing.

  24. This is why I am building a bunker on our property, it is about 90% complete and once finished it will have the following:

    Sleeping quarters for 6, 150 gallons of diesel, diesel generator, air scrubber, 4 months food and water, toilet linked to septic system, backup biological toilet system, 7 rifles with 5,000 rounds of ammunition, television, radio, flashlights, large amount of varying batteries, games and other entertainment devices, very large first-aid/trauma kit. I’m sure I am forgetting some things but you get the idea.

    Some people may think this is crazy but a terrorist attack, viral outbreak, food shortage, fuel shortage, nuclear attack, economic crash…could turn our modern society into savages.

  25. Rusty, wheat may indeed be easy enough to grow and plentiful, albeit increasingly pricey, at the moment, but under the hypothetical of environmental/societal collapse, it may be a different story. Growing/milling wheat takes good land, water, time and hard work. In a world where one can get killed for a tank of gas, I’m sure there would be little compunction about liberating a laboriously produced sheaf of wheat at the point of a shiv. Perhaps there could be a return to a small scale agrarian existence following crisis, but only if the population collapsed and the remaining fertile land was plentiful enough and well distributed to avoid conflict.

    Of course, bread is so French revolution, anyway. If we want to keep deluding ourselves with a growth based economy, we will be eating totally synthetic food derived from coal and genetically modified amorphous bovine matter, in no time.

    I think we could use some new societal collapse movies. How about a post petroleum Mad Max called “Turf Warrior” with murderous hoards roaming on old electric golf carts, coveting lead acid batteries and scavenged solar panels to charge them (PV panels would be easily liberated from soft, idealistic greeniacs who installed them near the turn of the century). The turf warriors would cruise to find old dessicated golf courses where there just might be one last hidden golf cart with a stocked minibar. They wouldn’t drink the alcohol, of course. Rather they would distill it in a solar still to power their patched together ultralight aircraft used to raid other marauding bands such as the shallow water pirates that float on rafts over Florida and dive for the last bits of treasure hidden away in submerged Palm Beach condos (mostly pharmaceuticals), etc.

  26. Hi Alison,

    Thanks for your kind and thoughtful message. I think you are an inspiration for all of to deeply explore our secrets. And yes, you are not alone in your secret – take it from me.

    Be well,


  27. > “The sun’s going to go out in a million years, and here I am going to work like a sucker.”

    oh, i LIKE that. i REALLY like that.

  28. If it happens it’ll happen anyway, whether or not you worry about it. That’s what I tell myself when I start obsessing over things beyond my control. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But it is true.

    Yes, you can play a small part by not wasting the world’s resources, and that’s brilliant, and well done and all that. But *worrying* about it won’t affect it. So you may as well stop fretting and start having fun instead – particularly as you may die when somebody kills you for a tank of gas, so make the most of what time you have left.

    Sometimes I stop and think, oh God, what if something really bad is happening to my son right now? What if he’s dead or dying or being tortured? But then I think, if he is, it won’t make any difference that I’m sat here worrying about it. If he is, there’ll be a lifetime of agony from the moment I’m told about it. So I may as well shut up thinking about it and make the most of what innocence I have left.

  29. Just want to say that I’ve been thinking about this post a lot. I tried to leave a response last week, but my laptop abruptly died while I was writing it and it was lost. Basically I wanted to say that I think “apocalypse fear” is a common part of growing older – it’s something I’ve dealt with a lot more in my thirties than when I was younger (and is the only thing so far that’s worse about my thirties than my twenties). I think it’s connected to losing that youthful sense of invulnerability, as you start to feel you have a lot more to lose and as you start to see more people you know and love getting old and dying. That’s not to say that younger people can’t have it too or that older people can’t be oblivious to it, just that I think you’ll find it’s more common among the people you know than you feared it would be. But then, you’ve taken the step to start talking about it with others, and posted about it here, so you know that now. As the responses show, each of us may be all alone with our fears, but we’re all alone together, and sharing helps us cope. Thanks for sharing.

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