“My posture is terrible. I should stand up straighter. People would respect me more if I stood up straighter. What’s wrong with me? I just want to connect. Why can’t I connect with people? Oh, right, it’s because I’m dead. I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. I mean, we’re all dead. This girl is dead. That guy is dead. That guy in the corner is definitely dead. Jesus these guys look awful.”
Quote from Warm Bodies
This blog probably belongs in October. But here it is, January 2014, and I am writing about Zombies. Probably Zombie blogs are worthwhile all year long… that’s my hope at any rate.
So, what do Zombies have to teach us? Well, let’s start with what Zombies represent. They represent, on a simple level, the living dead. In Africa, the Voodoo definition of “Zombi” is a living dead person who is controlled by another person, the other person controls everything about the Zombi and the Zombi has no will of his/her own. In Western culture, Zombies are typically depicted as mindless, reanimated corpses hungering for human flesh, and particularly for human brains. In a recent movie, Warm Bodies, Zombies eat brains to vicariously feel human again by eating the memories and experiences of another person and also in an attempt to feel connected to their past humanness.
Now, knowing what a Zombie is, what can you learn from them? The first question possibly needs to be: Am I a Zombie? The second question is also what most spiritual journey’s are about: How do you stay alive once you decide you’re not a Zombie?
My personal bias, probably because I am old, is that being alive when you’re a kid or a teenager, well that’s far easier. I am not attempting to minimize the teenage angst, or the terrible things that can happen to children and teenagers. But, having survived my own childhood and teen experience, I feel somewhat clear on this subject. It’s really hard for young people to be the living dead. They are typically too alive in their minds, even if they are overwhelmed and depressed, they often haven’t had the long term experience of being beat down by choices, life, or responsibilities. There are always exceptions to this rule of thumb. But, if you’re 30+, yep you’re in danger, seriously deep danger. By your 30’s you typically have all sorts of past history, you have whatever is going on in your life now, to include responsibilities, kids, cars, homes, credit cards, and jobs. These things make us tired and these things, these responsibilities in conjunction with general exhaustion, can make it easy to become the living dead… slaves to our stuff and slaves to our choices… no longer feeling in control, but rather forced to do the will of others.
Anytime you feel trapped in a marriage, or a job, you wake up, go to life (work), come home, watch tv, eat, sleep, wake up… do it over and over again, you are in danger. It’s the monotony of life, the losing of interests, the giving up of dreams, these things are part of the slow migration towards becoming a Zombie. Whenever you give up on important ideas, this giving into the status quo of societal expectations of you, then you’re in danger. When you stop questioning yourself and others, and quit being curious and exploring what people think and why they think what they think, and if you agree or disagree, and why you agree and disagree… you’re in danger. When you stop noticing the beauty around you, or participating in making the world a better place, you’re in danger.
I’m not absolutely certain, but maybe all it takes to stay alive, is finding your passion and keeping your brain alive. Being on the quest to discover the things that gets you up each day with interest, excitement and passion, not just getting up because you have to get up, but because you genuinely want to get up. It could be anything, so I am not interested in limiting this to being artistic, though for me it has to do with being creative and thinking and learning. Again, creativity, thoughtfulness and education can take a lot of forms. Maybe you love your job, you wake up ready to go out and “Live it!”, or maybe your job is the thing you do to support your real life, the one where you are continuing to explore the world around you, refusing to succumb to the potential banality that surrounds us all. When in motion it is easier to stay in motion, but it takes a greater effort to get things that are at a stand still, moving again. In the movie, the Zombies are able to become alive again, it took an openness to love, to start caring, and willingness to participate differently in life.
You can be rich, poor or anywhere in the middle, and still find yourself waking up dead. And anyone, rich or poor can have a rich life, filled with passion, curiosity, and connection. A simple truth: it’s easy to lose yourself, we are all just 2 steps from being a Zombie. Mundane existence is a slippery slope and we all can slide down that hill, if we aren’t paying attention. For me, being alive is about having passion and balance, it’s about really truly caring, not being afraid, and not living a life of fear and hopelessness. There are many issues that seem hopeless, and yet, if we are alive, aware, and thinking, looking for ways to make things better for ourselves and others, then very little is truly hopeless. We often have opportunities that show up in our lives to love and learn and grow. Question your thinking, why you believe what you believe? Question my thinking. But, always keep looking at ways to really be alive.
Be kind to everyone you meet, they are all walking a hard road, often filled with Zombies. The lesson: be kind to Zombies, we’re all in danger of becoming one.