The world has not ended yet!

On my lunch break, I like to take walks through the streets of Ashland.

I like to walk through the rain and snow and think about recent stories I've heard from friends and people I've interviewed.

I like to look up at the mountains ringing the city and think about the people who were here long before us but looked up at those same mountains.

And then I think about those who will come after us. I hope they will see the same landscape. I hope we're not ruining it forever.

I hear a lot of end-of-times theories these days. The year the Mayan calendar ends, 2012, is approaching. The population on the Earth is exploding. There are so many wars. The Ashland Food Cooperative can no longer sell raw milk, because of a new state law.

But here's what I think: The world has not ended yet!

We're still here, and we can still do good work. Eventually, the world may end. But until it does, shouldn't we focus on making it as good as we can, instead of bemoaning its potential destruction?

Last week, on one of my walks, I came across a tree with writing carved into its trunk.

First, let me say, if you have to graffiti something, don't pick a tree. Try something that's not living, and use nontoxic, biodegradable chalk.

OK, moving on.

On the tree, someone wrote "THE END IS NEAR." Then someone else scratched out "NEAR" and wrote "HERE!"

Isn't it nice to know it all happened in the past?

I felt good standing next to that tree. So far, we've survived all of the end-of-the-world predictions.

I think the days leading up to New Year's Day 2000 were the worst. Remember Y2K?

My grandfather, who was born during the Depression, bought a whole bunch of gold because he was worried the U.S. banks would collapse.

They didn't, of course.

Since then, we've come a lot closer to a financial catastrophe in this country. But we're not there yet.

I'm excited to welcome another year. 2011 has a nice ring to it, don't you think?

I don't have a New Year's resolution, because I'm bad at sticking to plans. I know if I make a to-do list, it will make me want to do whatever's on it less.

But if I had to make a vague, non-New-Year's-resolution, non-to-do list, here's what would be on it: Do more yoga. Make more art. Live more genuinely.

I'm going to ring in the New Year with a friend who's Russian. She tells me that New Year's Eve and Day are traditionally the biggest holidays of the year in Russia — bigger than Christmas.

With all they've been through, Russians know how to celebrate the end of a year and the hope a new one brings.

We're going to go to meditation at the Ananda Ashland yoga center in Phoenix on New Year's Eve — and then we might do a few less healthy things.

But while I'm meditating, I'm going to be thinking of you, dear readers, and how thankful I am that we're entering another year together.

The end may be near, but — if you're still reading this — it is not yet here.

Contact reporter Hannah Guzik at 541-708-1158 or hguzik@dailytidings.com. For past columns see dailytidings.com/ecologic.