Mowing the lawn at the end of the world

At the weekend I saw Seeking a friend for the end of the world. The final rescue attempt has failed and a 71 mile wide asteroid will strike the Earth in three week’s time. The movie follows two characters through the last days.

The film is a quiet apocalypse. The characters don’t have to struggle against other survivors and most utilities stay running (notably excluding airlines and telephones). The film sets aside the usual logistic questions about the apocalypse for the question 'what would you do if you had three weeks left'?

It's something people sometimes ask without thinking too much about it, but the question is ever-present – one day, for every person, the world will end. The oldest verified age is 122 but most people's health fails long before that.

In the film, Steve Carell’s character spends the first few days at his job as an insurance clerk. He tells his cleaner that he has wasted his life and does his best to salvage something from his disappointment. The news of Armageddon forces people to assess what they are doing with their lives, and to treat each moment as something precious. 

‘Live each day of your life as if it’s your last’ is a cliché – but one day it will be. My favourite moment in the film is when the main character drives through New Jersey. The car passes a man mowing his lawn. In the face of the world’s end he is carrying on with his normal routine: taking the same satisfaction from mowing his lawn as he did before the end of the world.

I guess that’s something to aspire to – the sort of life you’d carry on with just the same if an asteroid was on its way. Gardeninng and going to work, just as you did before.

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One thought on “Mowing the lawn at the end of the world”

  1. Judgement day is upon us . We scoffed at the religious because their stories brought about external adjudicators that decided when we live and die. We abolished their moral outrage, and turned it into a screenplay, a media lens that revealed the thing we’d been distracting ourselves from all along: final judgment isn’t an external act, but sits inside us, lurking, waiting to strike us down at all hours.
    Apocalypse films are the new religion, except now we pay to see them in 3D. Michael Bay is a high priest, chanting CGI rituals designed to elicit God The Weighing Scales from our own self, our own observer. The dark corners of the confessional box have become the dark corners of the home cinema.
    Repent now, for trailers for the spoiler are at hand.

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