Monday, February 7, 2011

Perspective In Motion

Jess and I have made it back to Jack's no worse for the wear. It was pretty uneventful travel back, but we took our time anyway. Getting stuck in that rest area shook us both, and we weren't going to take any chances. So, we avoided any groups of zombies on the drive here, parked and rested when they covered the road (out of the line of sight, of course) and generally took it easy.

Both of us are still recovering from the extended lack of water and trying to make up for the lack of food. We've been hungry many times over the last eleven months, and because of that we don't have significant reserves of fat to draw on. Not that the diet of rice and preserved vegetables feels exactly hearty, but it worked for a billion plus Chinese people for centuries, so I reckon it'll do for us as well.

I got word last night that Dodger and Jamie are going to be picking up Patrick and his girls sometime in the next few days. It's been a long haul for that group, my brother David tells me, and full of all sorts of interesting stories. Apparently they've been sidetracked and slowed down quite a lot over the weeks since they set out to find Patrick. Helping people as they ran into them, hiding for days on end to avoid swarms of zombies, and they had to go on fuel hunts a few times. Any of the juicier bits I hear about when they get back will be passed on, I promise.

Gabrielle tells me that the engineers are hoping to get the human-powered generator up and running within a week. The most important parts of it are ready to work, no machining required. The transmission being built for it is simple enough, but needs to be tested to make sure it can handle the stress without falling apart. I'm hoping that we can use this idea again in the future. I've had some thoughts on renewable power that might make this a very functional and efficient model other places...

Honestly, I just don't have a lot in me today. Being back and safe after such a harrowing (and admittedly funny) escape has left me with a simple, pure happiness to be here.

Well, that's a bit of a starting point, I guess. I've never really looked at our situation, the world's situation, that way before. So much awful shit has happened that I never really thought about the sheer joy of just being alive. Yeah, there are lots of little things, many of which I have blogged about before, that make us happy and help take the edge off of the terror and desperation that comes with living in a world that has faced apocalypse and lost.

But man, I'm just really happy to be alive. I guess with everything else that weighs down on us, not the least being Will Price helping the Richmond soldiers to take our home, that sort of gets lost. I'm sitting at a table with friends right now, able to type about what's going on around me, while shoveling spoonfuls of rice and broccoli into my mouth. My dogs are wandering around here, one or another of them coming over now and then to nuzzle me or sniff at Simon, my cat, who is snoozing contentedly on my lap.

Now that I'm looking at the scene around me, the normality of it, I can't help but smile. It's not everyday when a person gains the perspective to realize just how awesome it is to simply be alive. To have the capacity to interact with the world, enjoy it for what it is.

I don't know why I keep thinking about my mom so much lately, but this feeling reminds me of her. She and I had one of those strange relationships that was much more a friendship than mother-son. I knew her exceptionally well; her habits, mannerisms, likes and dislikes, her views on almost everything, her attitudes...And I can't help but think that this is how she got through her days.

Mom had a lot of health issues throughout her life. She had chronic back problems from her job (nursing will do that--I was a CNA, I know) along with a host of other issues from cancer scares to terrible insomnia. She was always tired and worn out, and she developed Osteoporosis in her mid forties, which made her bones weak.

Yet, she was overall a happy person. I'm not saying she didn't have her bad days, we all do. I know that a huge part of who she was as a person was tied into her favorite and most important role--being a mom. I think that even more important than that was this idea that just being here, just being able to watch your kids grow and change, achieve and fail, was her driving force. I mentioned the other day that her favorite saying was "Don't sweat the small stuff", and now I think I get why. It wasn't that she saw problems as being inconsequential, but instead that every day, every minute, was an opportunity for a solution.

Every day has infinite potential for good and bad, but if you're huddled over in misery worried only about what has happened, you miss the chance to involve yourself in what might. 

As time ceaselessly pulls me farther from the past when she was here with me, I think I gain a little more perspective on her. Then, I would have been sitting at her kitchen table, telling her about this whole experience, asking if she had ever felt such a pure joy in simply being. Now, I have to turn over my understanding of her in my brain, take what I have learned and felt and hold it up to those memories, and see what I find.

I didn't really mean this post to evolve this way. I wanted to update you on what was going on, and then maybe take a nap. But I think it's important for all of us to take a closer look at who we are, and what we've lost. The old saw about those who ignore history being doomed to repeat it? True. The only way we as individuals can become better people is to learn from the past. The only way for individuals to come together and make a better society is to have the desire for that self-improvement, and enough awareness to achieve it.

Otherwise, we're just leftovers from a fallen race, squabbling among ourselves and slowly killing our hope to become anything other than extinct.

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