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.
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.