“Just as one candle lights another and can light thousands of other candles, so one heart illuminates another and can illuminate thousands of other hearts.” ~ Leo Tolstoy
Apocaloptimist (n): Someone who knows it’s all going to shit but still thinks it will turn out okay.
As an apocaloptimist, the glass is both half-full and half-empty. The glass-half-empty understanding of the world is the empathic realization that we are polluting the earth with unprecedented ignorance.
Having been raised in profoundly sick societies, we are walking, talking, pissing Apocalypses. Each of us on a mass-destructive march toward Armageddon.
The first step in recovery is acceptance. Likewise, the first step toward apocaloptimism is the acceptance that we are sick. The second step is doing something about being sick, like being proactive about discovering medicine.
This is where the glass-half-full understanding of the world comes in. It’s the revelation that everything changes. There is no permanence. Even sickness passes.
Even Armageddons will leave enriched loam, filled with ashes. And ashes are the birth place of the mighty Phoenix. The most powerful metaphor there is for empowered rebirth.
1.) You hope for the best, but you are prepared for the worst
“A pessimist is a well-informed optimist.” ~ Mark Twain
This is the cornerstone of your apocaloptimism. Being prepared for the worst is about being able to adapt to and overcome the vicissitudes of life. To include, especially, the apocalypse.
Hoping for the best is the hope that things will turn out better than your research shows, as well as the hope that other like-minded individuals are as proactive as you are in their self-improvement, adaptation and improvisation.
You are prepared for the apocalypse, but you are hopeful that enough people will be able to come around to prevent it. Or at least curtail it. In the meantime, you are developing strategies for survival while hunting for the medicine that will be necessary to heal a profoundly sick society.
2.) You’re aware that you live in a sick society but you’re trying to be medicine
“It’s no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” ~ Krishnamurti
You have a deep and empathic understanding of why our society is so sick. Particularly in four self-evident (and apocalyptic) ways…
1.) Our society pollutes the air it needs to breathe.
2.) Our society pollutes the water it needs to drink.
3.) Our society pollutes the food it needs to eat.
4.) Our society pollutes the minds it needs to evolve with.
Because of this understanding, you are determined to be a force of health (maladjusted to the sick society) despite the sickness that surrounds you.
You are optimistic that others will realize the same, but you are also aware that the majority of people will continue going through the culturally conditioned motions of being sick.
3.) You are reconditioning your cultural conditioning
“There is no riskier risk than refusing to risk at all.” ~ Jen Sincero
You understand that just as the individual must stretch his/her comfort zone to achieve healthy growth, the culture must also stretch its comfort zone to achieve healthy evolution.
As such, you are proactive about being a beacon of hope for the empowering act of stretching one’s comfort zone despite a stagnant culture, just as you are proactive about being a beacon of darkness in the blinding light of the conditioned culture that surrounds you.
You are double-edged. You cut both ways—through unreasonable hope and through nihilistic despair. The ultimate goal being the continual upheaval of the status quo and the persistent self-overcoming required to be flexible in the face of catastrophe.
4.) You use high humor in the face of impending doom
“What is a tragedy but a misunderstood comedy.” ~ Shakespeare
You are proficient with the art of high humor, knowing that the only way to get power over the meaninglessness of the apocalypse is through the higher power of having a good sense of humor.
As such, you are able to turn the tables on fear, especially fear manufactured by so called authorities. You are able to flip the script, especially regarding the entrenched power that overreaches itself and directly triggers apocalyptic times.
You’ve found that high humor leads to high courage and the audacity to speak truth to power. And you do so with silver-tongued proficiency. There exists no perceived construct of power that’s above your humorous rebellion.
No idol too golden. No high horse too high. No pedestal too revered. No apocalypse too catastrophic. No God too godly nor devil too evil. No title too contrived.
Nothing is immune to the exactness of your humorous rebellion (optimism). It’s all merely procrastinating compost anyway. It’s all just well-arranged armor that will inevitably rust.
It’s all an illusion within a delusion. It’s all mere ashes awaiting the courageous heart of the Phoenix to gestate within its warm compost. And you have the enlightened sense of humor to reveal this absolute fact.
5.) You take strategic leaps of courage into the maelstrom
“Who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived or he who has stayed securely on the shore and merely existed?” ~ Hunter Thompson
Death reminds us, more than anything else, that life is for the living. Death is a hard, inescapable existential truth of mortality. As an apocaloptimist you embrace this fact and transform your life into a work of art.
Life is simply a finite art project where death is ever-looming and pressing in upon the borders of your canvas. Looking at death and the apocalypse meaningfully is using both as a wakeup call to live life to the fullest.
Such awareness should spur one towards healthy, courageous, authentic action rather than sink one into a paralyzing fear of cowardly and ultimately futile self-preservation. Embracing life’s finite nature (death) is a prompt to authentic action (living life to the fullest).
The possibility of death is ever-present. The inevitability of death should be a reminder that nobody else in the history, or future, of humanity will ever experience life or death the way that you will. As an apocaloptimist you are empowered by this revelation.
Indeed. If you would be alive—if you would choose to live an examined life, a fulfilled life, a self-actualized life, a life well-lived—then you understand the importance of not fearfully choosing the safe road, what Jung called “The Road of Death.”
You choose instead the courage to face the trials and tribulations of an adventurous road, a road full of danger and risk. You choose to transform the apocalypse into the birth place of the Phoenix.
6.) You are determined to create meaning despite meaninglessness
“We aren’t handed life’s meaning, so it’s imperative that we choose it for ourselves.” ~ Thomas Cathcart
In the grip of the apocalypse the creation of meaning can be a daunting prospect. As an apocaloptimist you tackle this prospect head-on.
The meaninglessness inherent in our impending doom is all the more reason for you to create meaning. You have the courage to stand atop the mountain of apocalyptic times and dare to create—and hopefully co-create with others—a zeitgeist of hope, health and providence.
Your high humor creates high courage which creates even higher art (meaning).
Channeling apocalyptic times, death anxiety, sacred wounds, and unruly demons into works of art, symbolically transforms death into life. The art created from this cosmic catharsis becomes the art of life.
Cosmic catharsis is the unfolding of life as art and art as life; what Ernest Becker called our “immortality project.” Which is essentially a creative and heroic engagement with life that creates meaning despite a universe which outflanks us with meaninglessness.
7.) You are radically present
“Take out the trash. The trash is anything that is keeping you from the only thing that matters—this moment, here and now.” ~ The Peaceful Warrior
You are hyper-aware of the current moment. You cannot ignore the impending apocalypse, and so you do not. You accept it as the way things are in the present moment, while also self-improving and educating others to be healthier in mind, body and soul so as to curtail it. Now, rather than later.
You teach healthiness now, in the moment, despite the nihilistic pessimists who proclaim that: “it’s all pointless so what’s the point of being healthy.”
You understand that the point of being healthy now is precisely for the purpose of living an examined life, a fulfilled life, a self-actualized life, a life well-lived.
You teach both self-awareness and the interdependent awareness of how everything is connected. But more importantly how it’s all connected in the present moment.
The past may have led up to the apocalypse. The future may result in apocalyptic collapse. But both of these prospects pale in comparison to the individual apocaloptimist who is making things better in the present moment through deep self-awareness, self-improvement, and self-overcoming for the healthy and progressive evolution of the species. This in spite of dark times.