Hey kids, it’s Beckley. So Josh mentioned Saturday that he, I, and Big K had lunch. It may have also been mentioned that I was a pig. So a couple clarifications: First, I’m not normally such a glutton. But I never thought I’d see another cheeseburger again before I moved here. I guess I still treat each burger like it’s the last one on Earth. Second, I hate the fact that Superman would win too. Superman is boring. He’s a boy scout. But he’s also invincible unless you have kryptonite, which you don’t. So what can you do? I like Batman too. He’s complicated and dark, but these are the rules of the universe. It’s like playing war with a five year old who always insists he has forcefield armor. You’re not going to win. Just accept it. Superman wins. It sucks, but you’ve got to deal with it.
Needless to say, it was a great time. And it got me thinking about life. I realized later that day, while my digestive system took me down for the count, that this was the first time I’ve lived since the fall. Actual living. See, I was always in survival mode. In fact, I initially hated the concept of settling down, of trying to rebuild a life. I saw it as decadence, as creating a hope that could only be shattered. How can you try to build anything when there are still zombie heads to smash? So I lived on adrenaline. Every one of my actions was directed at keeping me alive in the moment. The things I’ve done since the fall, the things I needed to do, they were all calculated on what my need was. I tried not to screw over others, not to ruin their chances of survival, but if it came down to your life or mine, I would live.
And now, since coming to New Haven, my entire world has opened up. Take the hamburgers for example. In the world that was…no, scratch that. In the world that still is, I love to cook. I haven’t gotten to do it as much since The Fall, but it’s still something I love. So when I got to actually grill my own burgers? Goddamn, son! That was as much of a thrill as eating them. Later on that day, I realized there’s nothing to stop me from following this love. I could talk to the Burger Couple about expanding. They make burgers, but what if I helped them do more? What about taking a brisket and turning it into corned beef or pastrami? I’d always wanted to do that before the end of the world, so why not now? I’m not saying I’m going to do that, or that they’d want to, but just that I can. For the first time I was thinking beyond just survival. You can survive (somehow) without pastrami. But why live without it?
This sounds like such a basic realization now that I’ve had it, but there are so many out there who still live in survival mode. There’s no hope because by definition hope has no place in a life lived only day to day. Hope is the expectation that there can be more. When you live just to survive, it takes a toll. And in the end it’s not sustainable. Here, let me tell you a story to illustrate that:
Once upon a time there were a group of punk-ass soldiers in Richmond. These guys were tough and resourceful, but when The Fall hit, they didn’t know how to live. They just survived. They ate up their own resources, so they turned on their neighbors. Now, they’d have been better served to ally themselves with the people around them, but that would have involved planning for the future. No, the Richmond Boys wanted to survive for today. So they eventually took over New Haven. Once there, they ate up their resources again because all that mattered to them was the present. And because of that lack of focus, they got their asses thoroughly and rightfully handed to them.
But the story doesn’t end there. People were oppressed during the reign of Richmond. When New Haven was reclaimed, some of these victims retreated from the community they’d built, the community for which they lived. Now they focused only on survival because their safety had been so shattered. Any time they felt they weren’t heard, they threw tantrums. When they felt they weren’t getting enough, they stole. When there appeared to be the slightest hint of a threat, they screamed out for blood. No more group, no more life, just survive at all costs. And thanks to their reversion back to survival when the community around them had evolved beyond that, they were exiled. And still, they couldn’t move on. They coupled their survival with hate. In order for me to survive, you must die. This hatred, this need to be strong, led to them embracing marauders and so they were subjugated again. By the time they realized that they needed to move on, to settle down, they were broken and fragmented and they had no friends. And now they’re all dead.
Survival keeps you alive, but it’s not sustainable. And when you couple hate in with that destructive way of life, you accomplish nothing but your own destruction. Because what does hate get you? I despise the marauders out there, but I don’t hate them. I think the UAS is out of control and misguided, but I don’t hate them. Hate takes up so much energy, invests you in the life and behavior of a person you can’t stand. What’s the point? So when you mix that with trying to survive day to day, all you get is people existing to nurse their own grudges.
And that’s where this comes back to you. Look, I don’t give a crap who likes me and who doesn’t. Who trusts me and who doesn’t. I’d like to walk down the street without getting spat at, but whatever. Seriously though, look at yourself. If you truly hate the UAS, if you truly hate me, if you hate those UAS soldiers that saved your people the other day, then what good are you to anyone? Do you think hate makes you a better fighter? Because it doesn’t. Ask any of the professional soldiers that New Haven has operating on the front. You think they want hotheads or people with something to prove? Do you think your hate makes you more motivated? Maybe, but just for your own selfish goals, not for the group. Because, again, survival doesn’t involve the group. It involves you. There’s no loyalty there. There’s no friendship. There’s no cheeseburgers. There’s no pastrami. There’s no life.
And you in the UAS, you’re scared, I know. Your government, your military, may seem out of control in their behaviors. But you can’t depend on them for your survival any more. It’s time to build yourself a life. Because there is life out there. There is so much more. I found it. Those soldiers the other day found it. So can you.
So if anyone wants to start living life instead of just surviving, now is the time. And you know, even when I was out there, just surviving, I think I knew there needed to be life down the line. I started collecting luxury items. Useless stuff that would only be good for trade if the world started to rebuild. Some cans of soda, jewelry, spices, even porn. The hope had to be there, otherwise why haul the stuff around? And it’s time I finally cracked it out, because what good are luxuries if you don’t enjoy them? It’s time to live, not survive, and not hoard for some unrealistic expectation of a future. So if you want to trade something for a taste of expired Dr. Pepper or you’ve found the lack of internet porn intolerable, stop by and we’ll deal. But more importantly, if you need to stop by and talk, please do. Survival and hate become comfortable like a pair of filthy jeans. But it’s time to change and put on something fresh and new. Change is hard, but accepting it is necessary. Sometimes it helps to just talk. So please, stop by. We can all start this new life together.