How many of you have ever felt like giving up? Felt like you failed at all your dreams and hopes, convinced that you are condemned to live out a boring, and as my dear friend puts it, “long, shuffling and catatonic life”. This is an undead guest post from the lovely and adventurous Lauren over at theworldplease.com on how she managed to survive the zombie apocalypse, live again and travel on.
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“What am I doing with my life? I’m so pale. I should get out more. I should eat better. 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, that’s right – it’s because I’m dead.” – R.
I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that it took a film about zombies to remind me how to live again. I mean, of course I knew what to do in the survival sense, should a cannibalistic apocalypse threaten mankind: aim for the head, isolate yourself and your loved ones – if you even decide to stick with other people at all – double-tap, know your exit, and don’t get close enough to be infected. Hell, I’ve taken enough online quizzes to know I get straight As in Zombie Evasion 101.
I’m more talking about what happens after you’ve already been bitten – or, in a less science fiction-y way, suffered failure and don’t know how to get back on track. In the movies, victims roam a derelict world, incapable of acting like humans and instead munching on, or vomiting blood in the faces of, those who were once their peers.
Of course, in real life, the outcome is a lot less grisly: you just float around a pool of negative emotions, slowly forgetting what it’s like to feel alive, before sinking beneath the surface, unable to feel anything at all.
“I just want to feel what you felt: to feel a little better – a little less dead.” – R.
Everyone deals with failure in different ways, and depending on the size of the failure. In my case, I’d returned home from six months on the road with my tail between my legs, ashamed I’d been unable to carve a full-time living out of travel. Doing so had been my dream for months – years, even – and I was so sure that with all my research and finger crossing, I would achieve success.
Yet, there I was: back where I started and penniless, facing the prospect of day-to-day existence in dull, mechanical suburbia.
Within weeks of my return, I began immersing into full zombification mode. Days were so uneventful they blurred together. I mourned the loss of the intrepid, fearless, survivalist version of myself I’d so idealised. Reality’s bite was becoming infected, and pretty soon, I felt nothing at all. I was dead inside, but – as far as I could tell – still technically alive. All that was left was to feast on the dreams of others, and settle in for a loooooong, shuffling, and catatonic “life” ahead.
“So much for dreaming. You can’t be whatever you want. All I’ll ever be is a slow, pale, hunched-over, dead-eyed zombie. It’s hopeless. This is what I get for wanting more. I just need to be happy with what I had. Things don’t change. I need to accept that. It’s easier not to feel…then I wouldn’t have to feel like this.” – R.
My brain was already whirring at a more sluggish speed than usual. However, somewhere along the line, I decided I should go and see a movie to take my mind off not thinking. I bought my ticket to Warm Bodies, and anticipated the usual thrilling level of mediocre acting and flesh scarfing that’s to be expected from zombie flicks. I wasn’t in any way prepared for the surge of brain activity that would hit afterwards.
“Holy shit. Holy SHIT!” – R.
The moral twist behind this adaptation of Romeo and Juliet and Zombies was that the “corpses” weren’t dead, per se: they’d simply forgotten how to live. It took an event of significant emotional power – in the main character R’s case, meeting a living girl he fell in love with – to cause a ripple of rebellion strong enough to jolt the zombies back to life. They dared to dream again, and feel susceptible to pain and cold and joy and humour… and slowly, life fell back into place, and they were human again.
Well, I’d started to feel like I was in an episode of The Truman Show – like the director had taken an awkward chunk of my life and turned it into a film, and cast a pale, short-haired, socially clunky, blood-soaked actor to play me. I was symbolically stuck in the land of the dead, conversing only with those deader than me and lamenting how miserable I felt in their company, but doing nothing about it because they were “my people”.
I wasn’t dreaming…I was dying. And that was enough for me to think fuck this sideways. I’m going to live again.
Like the characters in Warm Bodies, I took time to earn my life back again. I took a hammer to that dent in my pride, and decided to get back out on the road. I re-established my old habit of researching (like the relentless bookworm I am) and, as a result, found a vacancy to work for Vagabundo Magazine as an editorial intern. Mere months later, I was promoted to the role of blog editor, and started drifting around exotic countries again as a solo traveller.
My heart was pumping, and my brain was, once again, surging with power – I was happy, and a survivalist once more.
“And the rest of us? Well, we kind of learned how to live again. For a while, it seemed like a lot of us forgot what that meant. This was the key to the cure. It was scary at first…but every great thing starts out a little scary, doesn’t it?
This is how it happened. This is how the world was exhumed.” – R.