Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Zombie Apocalypse: Longing for a Simpler Life

Today is officially Vodka Cranberry Zombie Day.

My blog is like my own little world where I determine what's what, like the identity of George Clooney's soul mate or the identity of the Antichrist (Rick Santorum).

Here at Vodka Cranberry Clooney, today's theme is the end of life as we know it.

Today, I revealed in a previous post  that my current TV show obsession is The Walking Dead. I have mentioned zombies a lot lately, in this post, for instance, and in this one. This morning, a friend posted a status update about becoming an "official Zumba instructor" and I first read it as "official Zombie instructor." I was ready to submit my resume. I find myself daydreaming about an apocalyptic event and the main thought I have is this: Let's do this already.

I am ready for a flu pandemic or an asteroid barreling toward Earth or a cancer cure gone wrong that turns droves of stupid people into even more stupid people, who walk slowly and moan and eat off your face if you get too close. (Incidentally, The Things That Keep Us Here by Carla Buckley is an enjoyable novel about what might happen in the event of a flu pandemic as told through one family's experiences.)

Maybe I'm just longing for a major change. I panic at the thought of moving everything I own one state over for a new job, but I love the thought of getting rid of everything I own to move with my children to another country.

In Up in the Air, Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) gives motivational sessions in which he asks the audience members to imagine themselves carrying a backpack. "How much does your life weigh?" he asks.

"I want you to pack it with all the stuff that you have in your life. You start with the little things. The shelves, the drawers, the knickknacks, then you start adding larger stuff. Clothes, tabletop appliances, lamps, your TV... the backpack should be getting pretty heavy now. You go bigger. Your couch, your car, your home... I want you to stuff it all into that backpack.

"Now I want you to fill it with people. Start with casual acquaintances, friends of friends, folks around the office... and then you move into the people you trust with your most intimate secrets. Your brothers, your sisters, your children, your parents and finally your husband, your wife, your boyfriend, your girlfriend. You get them into that backpack, feel the weight of that bag. Make no mistake your relationships are the heaviest components in your life. All those negotiations and arguments and secrets, the compromises.

"The slower we move the faster we die. Make no mistake, moving is living. Some animals were meant to carry each other to live symbiotically over a lifetime. Star crossed lovers, monogamous swans. We are not swans. We are sharks."

OK, in general, this is a sad message. If you've seen the movie, you know George Clooney's character is very alone because he has made the mistake of thinking that it isn't just stuff but people who weigh you down.

But, if you're like me and suffocating under the weight of your life, you can see the appeal of traveling as lightly as possible and being up in the air.

Some people don't like air travel, but I have always loved it. Being in an airport or on a plane feels like a break from reality. Now there is WiFi everywhere, but I like to pretend there isn't. I want to be in a place between places, where I can read a book or write in my journal or people watch. I really liked it before cell phones when no one could call or text me. I was free until the moment I arrived at my destination.

There's something appealing about imagining the entire world thrown into a life-changing chaos in which all that matters is basic survival. The point of each day is to stay alive, drink water, eat food, find a place to hole up, and shoot the undead. No bills to pay. No car repairs. No women's magazines telling me I need to lose that last ten pounds. No advertising telling me I'm using the wrong detergent, toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoo. No Republican debates.

I wake up each day and remind myself not to worry. I read the day's devotional in Jesus Calling. Stephanie gave it to me for Christmas. No matter what you believe, it's amazingly helpful.

I struggle with this stuff. I don't like religion. It seems full of hatefulness and intolerance and silly mythology. But Jesus seems like a cool dude who said this basic thing, "Love one another." Not "Judge one another." Not "Hate one another." Not "Shove one another's religious beliefs down the other's pie hole."

"Love one another."

So I read the devotional and I think about how true it is that worry is pointless, that by worrying I am forcing myself to go through something that has not happened, I am imagining the worst and working myself into a frenzy about it. I am exhausting myself with the idea that not only will bad things keep happening but that they are all my fault. See, when it comes to bad stuff, I'm totally in control of it all. I make it happen with my awful mind.

Somehow this power of thought does not work with good things. If it did, George Clooney would have taken me to the Academy Awards. This is what I like to call The George Clooney Conundrum.™ If I am responsible for wishing my ex-husband would leave me alone and then watching him as he disappeared forever, then why do I not have a charming, prank-playing, kind and funny boyfriend who looks good in a tuxedo? I've given way more mental energy to that scenario.

After I get up and remind myself not to worry, I proceed to worry the rest of the day. A major apocalyptic event seems like a nice alternative. Then we'd all have just one major thing to worry about instead of the thousands of tiny things with which we have cluttered our lives. Forget pollution and global warming. What we have really destroyed this world with are millions of pointless monsters, paperwork and red tape, complicated rules, shallow expectations.

Someone said, "Don't sweat the small stuff," but the small stuff is what makes a person feel helpless. Wouldn't you rather be bitten by one dog than by a million tiny mosquitos? We were made to deal with the BIG stuff. We were made to survive. Breathe in and out. Seek shelter. Seek food. Seek love. Love one another.

We have filled this world with small stuff. We have filled our backpacks with meaningless crap. We have filled our ears with noise and our heads with small expectations that rule us. Am I thin enough? Am I pretty enough? Am I rich enough? Am I wearing the right clothes? Am I living in the right neighborhood? Am I choosing the right organic vegetables? Am I purchasing the right laundry detergent? Am I using the right type of light bulbs?

Should I eat dark chocolate instead of regular chocolate? Should I eat more salmon? Should I do more crossword puzzles? Is a glass of red wine good for me? What if I have three glasses? Did I just undo the benefit of having one? Is a vodka cranberry bad? Is diet soda making me fat? Is caffeine good or bad?

Am I failing my children because I cannot afford extracurricular activities? Should I have put Kate in tumbling when she was four years old so she could have made the cheerleading squad? How will I send my son to college? How will I give them all the things they need?

Where will I get a ladder so I can clean out the gutters? What if, by avoiding this chore, I am ruining the wood around the house? What if I don't find a job? Should I sell my house? How will I fix all the things that need fixing in order to sell it? What if it doesn't sell? Is it weird that I am not sure I want to leave the house where Charles died, that I sometimes think I can control the pain of his loss by owning the place where it happened?

My mind collapses under the weight of a million questions that come one after another, questions that feed off each other like insatiable zombies feeding on brains.

Imagine a post-apocalyptic world. The small things are gone. It's just the big things: Survive. Breathe. Drink water. Eat food. Stand outside and listen carefully. Observe what is around you. Truly see it. There is no cell phone in your hand. You are not ever looking down. There are no electronic beeps or dings or vibrations to pull you away from where you are. Live in the moment. Find a comfortable place to sleep. Wake up. Do it again.

What it boils down to is that I'm craving brains a simpler life.

It occurs to me that it is up to me to block out the white noise of daily life, to not give the small stuff space in my head. It occurs to me that I can do exactly what I crave. I can breathe in and out. I can focus on the big stuff (love one another). I can live in this moment and only this moment. I can release my grip  on the heavy stone of what might be and what has been.

The zombie apocalypse is now.

"Real difficulties can be overcome, it is only the imaginary ones that are unconquerable."  - Theodore N. Vail

Here's today's theme song: Zombie by the Cranberries.

1 comment:

  1. to end such a powerful post with such an awesome song! PERFECTION.


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