Monday, August 30, 2010

The World That Used to Be

Today is my two hundredth post on Living With the Dead, and it got me thinking about milestones.

It was only months ago that we measured the bends and forks in the road of our lives in many ways. For some of us, it was finally buying that first new car. Getting your first home. Maybe it was paying off that last bit of credit card debt. Almost all of us used birthdays as markers for the progress of our lives. Pick a big event anywhere in your past, and I am sure you will see what I am talking about. Our achievements were many and varied, but we loved them.

But I think back on those moments of victory, and I find that at least for me, they didn't define me.

So much of what I once equated to success simply existed as an outgrowth of the necessities of modern life. Paying my bills on time every time never said much about me. Yeah, it said I was responsible, but that is what all people should be. Nothing about it made me special.

So when I got on here today, lacking anything else to do at the moment (no zombie attacks and no work that needs urgent attention) I saw that this was to be post number 200, and it got me thinking.

Milestones. Achievements.

I ate some potatoes and (ugh) summer squash last night that Jess and I grew ourselves. I got a new belt buckle to replace a broken one, made for me by Roger, a man whose life I saved. I slept in my own house, armored and altered to survive the ceaseless waves of the undead in the early days of the downfall.

When I look around me, I see small victories everywhere. For all of us. Men, women and children who have passed through the crucible of violence and chaos the world has become. That we live here behind a wall built with our own hands, in homes that manage to contain the true warmth of humans living in peace with one another, is a testament to how fully we have been able to shed the baggage that weighed us down in the world that used to be.

We have done a lot, but I want to leave you with an image that all at once moved me, scared me, and made me proud.

I was walking over to the clinic about an hour ago, and I saw a bunch of kids playing. Black, white, and latino among them, every one of them totally oblivious to the differences others might perceive between them. They were mock swordfighting, a game we encourage since long blades are one of the best ways to defend yourself against zombies. One of the boys got a little too intense with one of the girls, and managed to whip her across the face with a thin length of birch.

The girl, about nine, didn't cry. The boy stopped in horror when he realized what he had done, and just stood there. Then the girl punched him in the face hard enough to knock him over.

Then she helped him up, and told him to be more careful.

If I have to be proud of anything, it has to be that. That little girl maintained her calm in the face of unexpected pain, assessed the situation, and judged that her attacker needed a lesson, short and sweet. Helping him up showed that she wasn't going to hold a grudge, and that she took action herself showed remarkable independence.

Can you see why I feel pride?

While some of us might be unhappy at the need for our young to learn violence as a solution, circumstances for the foreseeable future require it. I don't like it much myself, but my heart was singing to see the reasonable reactions, self control and self reliance in the child. She figured out a solution without waiting for an adult, and showed by example that actions have consequences at least equal to themselves.

That was a milestone for me. Maybe the most important one.

Today I saw proof that those who come after us, the ones who will lead and run this place or the ones they leave here to build, might be better at it and more capable people than us.

I couldn't be more satisfied right now. That's a feeling I will never forget.


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  2. Dear Folks at the Compound,
    I am writing to you for a number of reasons. No. I'm lying. Really only one reason. I'll get to that in a moment. First I want to introduce myself. My name's Aaron, and I just recently found Josh's blog today. Before the Fall, I was in school in Lexington, studying to teach High School History. Now, well. Now I'm nothing. When the Fall happened, I and a group of my friends family were prepared. Or so we thought. There was about 15 of us, including three children. We held up pretty well inside of a large hobby store at Brandon's Crossing. We decided that would be the best place, given the easy access to guns, medicine, and food. It all came crashing down a couple of months ago. I suppose that would've been in May or June. Honestly, time is something I'm not too sure about. Only now that I've managed to get access to the internet (albeit briefly) am I able to see that it's nearing September. Sorry, I got distracted from the topic at hand. So a few months ago, we got attacked by a sizeable group of zeds (zombies as you guys been calling them..not even sure where I picked up the habit of calling them zeds honestly). We really didn't think much of it. We had been dealing with pretty regular attacks of groups of 20 or more zombies for awhile. I suppose that's what we get for being so damned close to Lexington. But things we different. I see now after reading the blog what. They've gotten smarter. A lot smarter. Sadly, I lost everybody in that attack. I only escaped by barracading myself in the back room until they lost interest. Which fortunately they did. Something bigger must've come along. Since then I've been by myself. I can't deal with it. I need people. Real people. I can't deal with being alone. Until today I thought I was the only living thing left. But, now. Now I have hope. So the real reason I'm writing is to ask to join you all. I don't know what I can bring. My skills are very limited. I know a LOT about history, particularly European and American history. I've fired a gun a few times but I'm not a great shot. I know how to handle a sword relatively well, but better with fencing than anything else. I picked up a few things from my friends and family before they passed on like how to mend fences, rebuild engines, and the like. But, I don't know. I just need people. I think I can make the journey up there. I might be able to bring a scant amount of supplies I have left. But I don't want to just show up at your doorstep and get shot or worse, left to be eaten by those "things". I beg of you for help. To let me take solace in your community. I'll check this sometime later tonight to see the response.


  3. Aaron--if you genuinely want to work with us for a better future, then you are welcome here. Come here on your own if you want to, or send us a message and we can come find you. Sending information to us privately would be safest, and the folks at Google have made sure my Gmail addy let us know what we can do. Make sure you identify yourself in anything you send!