Thursday, February 23, 2012

Terrible Two

I try my best not to focus on the time that's passed, but no matter how much effort we mere humans put into it, we can't help but notice the turning of the seasons. I realized this morning as I walked through the greenhouses Jess supervises that we're just days away from ending our second full year living after the end of the world.

Some of you might be thinking in biblical terms, such as the rapture and those left behind. Some are probably considering all the apocalyptic fiction that you've encountered and how the reality differs. Maybe you're reflecting on how wrong the Mayan calendar was, since the world ground to a screeching halt far in advance of the advertised date in December of this year. I'd wager a few out there are even thinking about how hard the future will be, based on experiences so far.

Me, I'm thinking about radishes.

I've said before that our goal should be to look at the world and our place in it with a large degree of comparison. We have to consider how far we've come, and how far we've yet to go. To measure our achievements, survival chief among them, rather than days gone by. As I walked through the greenhouses with Jess, I realized that I hate radishes, and that there was enough food being grown that I wouldn't have to eat them. My wife's hard work in designing and managing the sprouts destined to be crops this year means that New Haven will be fed with a variety of foodstuffs in such quantities that we'll have choices in our meals.

For someone two years ago who had a hard time picking between two different kinds of frozen lasagna at the supermarket, this probably wouldn't seem world-changing. For me, now, having been hungry in ways that can only be described as third-world, it's close in accomplishment to the discovery of the DNA molecule or harnessing the power of the atom.

Okay, I'm probably being hyperbolic here, but you have to understand that I fucking hate radishes.

Granted, we've got enough troubles to write a century's worth of blues songs. The weather today is already warm and probably headed for balmy heights, which means more probing attacks by zombies. The Exiles aren't going anywhere and my crystal ball tells me they aren't going to give us a pass for dropping half their buddies into a river valley, so that's a comforting thought to carry around.

But dammit, we won't starve through it. With all the worries my people and I have, food hopefully isn't going to be one of them this year. Jess has truly taken ideas and made them her own. Some things she's growing aren't all that tasty, but we can easily grow in bulk--such as clover. Boil it, and it's not so tough to digest. The stuff grows just about anywhere, is relatively nutritious, and at present hundreds of millions of seeds are being spread everywhere we can drive. That, in addition to the clover seeds we spread last year, will give us a huge supply to draw on.

A stable food supply is just one example of the progress made here, and much of that has been achieved while I was away. I learned even more about the defenses after yesterday's post, and I'm now certain that any group of zombies is going to have a tough time getting inside the walls, regardless of numbers. There would have to be thousands for me to seriously worry. I'm gonna knock on wood, of course, because it's not as though we haven't fought that many at New Haven before.

There are plenty of reasons for us to get depressed and give in to worry. That's just honest fact. We could focus on the challenges ahead in a negative way, worry endlessly about the ever-present threat of zombies sneaking up and swarming us suddenly, too fast for the defenses to matter. We will certainly sweat as the Exiles rebuild their strength and call in new allies if they can manage it. Those things and the hundred tiny difficulties that come with daily life can weigh us down.

I'm not trying to sing a happy song and ignore all that. I'm not saying there won't be times when the hurt and worry will drive us to bed, shaking with the overwhelming stress of it all. Surely we'll have moments of weakness.

What I am saying is that we've survived more times and in more dire situations than your average group of settlers heading for the west two centuries ago. We've persevered, and even gone beyond mere survival or maintaining the status quo. We've done a lot of good for ourselves and others, created a complex trade system that will be instrumental in strengthening ties to other communities and rebuilding a larger society.

I'm just saying that when we're tending out wounded from the next unexpected zombie attack or fending off the advances of the Exiles or even just bitching about how hard everyday life is, we should remember that.

The funny thing about the future is there's always more of it to be encountered. Or defeated, conquered, or just plain won. It's going to be a rough journey, but remembering our victories is the best defense our hearts can mount against the many small defeats that will surely come.

So keep your chins up. No matter how long it takes, be it another two terrible years or twenty, we'll get there.

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