Monday, October 1, 2012

Just Like Miles O'Brien

Yes, that Miles O'Brien. The one from Star Trek.

Bear with me.

I'm about to go out to my morning routine of getting beat up and doing a little beating up of my own. After that I'll spend some time with Steve and a team of scouts cleaning up zombies from outside the walls while the repair crews work on the breaches.

My brother, the mighty Dave, went on a rant yesterday when he stopped by my house on his lunch. He and his family have relocated into the new expansion (soon, I'll have an answer as to what the sections of New Haven are called, because this is getting ridiculous) and his work keeps him over here for the most part. Dave is in charge of building stuff, and that pretty much includes all repair work. Not only those things, though, which was what he was complaining about yesterday.

In theory, all requests for repairs and improvements have to go up the chain. Dave has people to manage the whole system, and it allows for a lot of work to get done at once. In practice he can't stand being cooped up all day, so he goes out and oversees tricky projects and critical items himself. That means he has to walk around a lot. And since everyone knows him by sight--he shaves his head, which is something most men don't bother with nowadays, as short hair is enough to prevent your coif from becoming a weapon--a lot of people will pull him aside. Just to mention this little problem or that little annoyance.

Something he said yesterday stuck with me. He said he feels just like an engineer on Star Trek. Those poor bastards were always overworked and expected to perform miracles on command. The problem according to Dave is that in the real world, the one overrun by zombies and a decided lack of science fiction to make it all magically work out in the end, there just isn't enough time to do everything.

He sounded a lot like my favorite character from Star Trek, Miles O'Brien. Not just because both of them solve problems others can't or won't handle, or for any of the more obvious reasons. I love O'Brien above all other characters in that show because he was an everyman. Not an officer. A grunt. A fully-fleshed character that had more facets than you could count. To me he was a real person; someone who did his job ably and with creativity, but was more than that. He drank booze and worried about being a good father. He fought in wars. He had demons but tried to be a better man. O'Brien was approachable though gruff. He was the kind of character most likely to give you practical, good advice and even a little bit of wisdom.

Dave is that way, and I realized after most of a day thinking about it that a lot of other people are as well. Faye and many of my other combat training partners talk with me about my problems. Hearing that others have been in the same frame of mind helps, believe it or not. Each person who pats me on the shoulder and tries to make me feel better because they've been there too helps just as much as the ones who've suffered depression and kick me in the gut, telling me to get the fuck over it.

I've experienced a lot of different kinds of help. Those are just two examples. A huge positive for me in the last month is seeing just how resilient people are. So many of us have been broken down yet struggled through to recover. Even in the wake of the attack that took so many lives and injured twice that number, people keep on. The smiles might be tight, but they're there even if it's just to keep the tears away. We all deal in different ways, but I'm right on the edge of something. A realization, I don't know. I feel...

Normal. Not less than others. The anxiety and depression aren't gone but I feel like they're under control now. One of the major stress factors--aside from fighting off the undead, our own fear and sadness, and worrying about human enemies, of course--is how many hats each of us has to wear. O'Brien was whatever the script needed him to be, and more on top of that. He could create a workable solution to some zany transporter problem and move right on to playing the cello or teaching his son to read.

We have to learn a lot of skills, many of them with no overlap. It's hard and thankless. Fighting and how to dress game, butcher meat, tend crops, make clothing from scraps or even from scratch, cooking raw foods to be edible and safe.

Learning to do all the things we need to do to survive while also making the effort and time to remember that we're people, real people, who need social interaction and enjoyment, is the kicker. Striking that balance between hard labor, self-education, and the psychological needs that keep us from losing it from sheer exhaustion and despair...I don't know how people do it.

Scratch that. I didn't know how. I think I've got it now. I've always said that surviving comes at a cost in this mad world. The Fall taught us the need to make hard choices, and I always thought the key to keeping sane was making those choices while still feeling the negatives that come with them. I still do, to an extent, but it's clear to me now that I tortured myself too much. You have to insulate your mind from dwelling too long or sinking too deeply. Feel those things, but find a way not to be crushed by them. Be cold if you must.

Because if a thing is necessary to your safety and survival, if it must be done, then burying yourself in guilt isn't a winning long-term scenario. Instead deal with whatever situation is at hand and move on afterward, working like hell to make sure you can avoid a repeat down the road.

I'm babbling again, but that's because the concept is big. And wide. It covers a host of situations and scenarios, way too many to go into here. But, for example, I'll say this (and end on this note): we lost those fifty people, and I feel bad about it. I really do. Not terrible, not enough to hinder my function. Yet I wasn't fighting.

My heart tells me that I should feel guilty, as if by me including myself in the battle I could have saved all those people. I know that's not the truth. The trick is focusing on the feeling I get when I tell myself that fact, the few seconds of relief from feeling responsible, and driving it home. It's a mantra I'm going to apply to many aspects of my life. Gabrielle thinks it's a good idea, and it seems to be doing the job pretty well so far.

I am not a victim. I am capable of doing what I must to protect myself and others. I will not give in to fear, or guilt, or despair. No matter what.

No comments:

Post a Comment