I've been watching The Walking Dead lately. It's got me thinking, not just about my weapon of choice when the zombies come (which, incidentally, would be a samurai sword) but also about life. Real life.
Watching these characters live day-to-day, sometimes minute-to-minute is both stressful and compelling. They eat to live, they cherish each other and clothing that somewhat fits is a luxury. Strangely, there's a romantic idealistic appeal to the way they live - excluding the flesh-eating zombies, of course.
Why? I think it's because they're back to basics. Their "job" is to find food, to protect themselves and to stay alive. It's like the olden days. Sort of.
Here are 5 things that become undeniably clear when the un-dead plague the world:
1) Everything is Really Hard Without Electricity
Zombie ate your wife? Hang on, I'll make you a cup of tea. Oh, I can't, my kettle won't work. Cold beer instead? Oh, sorry, not cold anymore.
Far out, almost every simple little thing we do relies on electricity. The old black-out is always a little exciting for the first few minutes, especially for children (assuming they're not alone in the dark) but the novelty wears off pretty damn quick.
Fumbling around in the dark for a torch is tolerable, laughable even, until you can't find the torch. That's when you decide to switch on the light so it's easier to look for the torch.
And those are the frustrating little brain lapses that you deal with while you wait for "them" to "get the power back on".
It's impossible to realise how much we rely on electricity until we don't have it. Next time you're making five stale-bread Vegemite sandwiches for dinner in the middle of a blackout, spare a thought for our Walking Dead friends who have to do that whilst simultaneously spearing recently deceased relatives. Unfair prickly-pear.
2) It's All About the People
Humans need humans. We're not designed to exist on our own. We need family, friends, partners, off-spring. We need people around us, people we can talk to, rely on, learn from, teach, grow with. We need connection.
We are so utterly surrounded by media these days. We are so consumed by all the gadgets, by all the things we have access to, by all the stuff we fill our days with, it's easy to take our loved ones, colleagues and even strangers for granted.
For the characters in the show, their very survival depends on their relationships and alliances with other people. It's not about their job, or their wealth, or their weight or looks or clothing. It's about working together to protect one another, to look after each other. To live.
Their limited down time is about connecting with one another, forging new friendships, sharing stories of the life they once lived and dream of again. It's not about watching TV or playing Minecraft, it's about each other. If you take out all the grossness and death, it's very much a show about life before technology as we know it.
So next time you choose Candy Crush over your partner, or push in when ordering a beer at the bar, you might want to reconsider your choices. When a hungry zombie is trying to eat you and only one person can save you, pray to God it's not the person you pissed off in the traffic last week.
3) Be Resourceful, Not Wasteful
We live in a throw-away society, in a time when it's easier and cheaper to replace than to fix. We replace rugs and pillows without thought because the interwebs tell us that blue is out, yellow is in. The toaster keeps burning one side of the bread, so we chuck it and get a new one because they're $7 at Kmart. WHEN did that happen?
When times are tough (and you don't need an army of dead people chasing you for times to be considered tough), we can channel our parents or grandparents and think twice before replacing something or throwing it away.
Practicing this skill now will not only save you money and spread a lovely environmental vibe, it will prepare you for a time when things may truly be tough.
Life can take some pretty unexpected turns, leading us in directions of uncertainty. Losing a job, illness, trying to pay for stupidly expensive kid's dancing lessons. Or a zombie apocalypse. Who knows? Either way, you'll be grateful you watched The Walking Dead and discovered a viable alternative use for hubcaps.
That said, if something is of no use to you and is not special to you, lose it. Otherwise it becomes clutter and clutter causes us to lose our shit. You know it.
4) Fitness, Health and Strength Matter
Be as fit, healthy and strong as you can be.
We all know this is important and I find the older I get, the truer it becomes. Each hangover is evidence of how much harder it is to bounce back.
If you want to be fit and active when you're 70, you need to be fit and active way before you get there. You need to take care of yourself now. Put the wine down and go for a walk every now and then.
Maybe The Walking Dead is completely make-believe and the zombies will never come. But if it IS real and they DO come, you'll be so glad you learnt how to breath when jogging. So ridiculously glad.
5) Appreciate EVERYTHING
I stood naked in the bathroom the other night, waiting for the hot water to wind it's way through the pipes. I was cold and tired and I'd actually had to force myself to believe a shower was a good idea.
The rest of the family had all had their baths and showers and obviously bloody long ones because the hot water never came. There was NO way I was having a cold shower so I put my clothes back on and told off each member of my family for enjoying the shower so much.
Poor me. I had to wait till the morning to have my lovely hot shower.
Millions of people all over the world, every day, go without luxuries like this and sometimes we really need to take a good hard look in the mirror and remember just how lucky we are. And enjoy checking your reflection because ain't nobody got time for that when the un-dead are trying to chow down on your loved ones.
Are you a fan of The Walking Dead? Have you learnt anything?