We find ourselves in the middle of the first month of the New Year. The air is still fresh, dreams are new, and heartbeats run fast. Maybe, like me, you are starting to slump under the abundance of material on keeping resolutions for the next twelve months. Instead of yet another piece on holding your intentions for the next month, let’s look at an archetype that can be your ally for the rest of your life.
The Zombie, which is only increasing its popularity in films, comic books, and classic novel mash-ups, is an image that hardly needs an introduction. They are dead people returned from the grave, wandering around the land, and groaning after the living. Side-stepping the gory details, the classic Zombie is easy to recognize: Insatiable hunger, a monotonously numbing routine, and a lack of individual choice are three primary characteristics of this pattern. Any act, from voracious spending to pursuing increasing amounts of attention, qualifies as long as what you gain is never enough. This is not consuming for sustenance, but as a temporary fulfillment, stilling any discontent and numbing you to the full experience of life. Where is the ability to make a personal choice if one has glutton-ed themselves to the point of total numbness? That’s why you rarely see a lonely zombie. They’re part of a group, all of them chasing an endless appetite.
Zombies move in groups, lack a personal identity, and are attracted by that which is not like them, namely someone alive. They move together with a singular goal to consume and internalize some part of a person who, through their life, possess a personal share of destiny. Unfortunately, once a living person contacts a zombie they become part of the homogeneous group lacking independent animation and destiny. Instead of claiming their own destiny, zombies are attracted to someone else’s and consume what they can until everyone is in the half-life existence.
It is the empowered Zombie that wakes up and moves toward her passions and the life that has been calling her. Lazarus in the Gospel of John is a useful illustration to this point. He had been dead and in a cave for several days before Jesus finally rolled into town. After speaking with the deceased’s grieving family members, Jesus stood outside the cave and called to the dead. (This is the voice of destiny urging the zombie to stir from his half-life.) A few moments later Lazarus woke, walked out into the daylight and stood while his face, hands, and feet were unwrapped from the constraining funerary garments.
For you and I, we can detect the presence of the Zombie when we find ourselves deep in our caves, consuming all that spews out of our electric displays, wondering at those who seem to have a slice of their own destiny. We may dream at the possibilities of fame and glazed camera lights instead of making things happen for ourselves. There is a voice outside in the sunlight calling to us every moment to wake up and come out into the world. First, we have to shake off the bindings that block our walking and our talking. We have to struggle to move and at times even to hear the voice itself. But we can walk out into the brightness of the life that we were born to live and follow each our own destinies. What better time to resolve our own longings than right now?
Film & Television: 28 Days Later; The Night of the Living Dead; Shaun of the Dead; Office Space; Clockwatchers; Fido; Zombieland; the Borg in Star Trek
Fiction: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith; the Inferi in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling; 1984 by George Orwell; Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Religion/Myth: Lazarus in The New Testament (John, Chapter 11)
My Zombie, Myself: Why Modern Life Feels Rather Undead (New York Times)