And so am I.
The other day I noticed something: what it costs a person in terms of time and life force energy to watch zombies on television. Out of curiosity, I looked up the number of hours it takes for a person to binge watch “The Walking Dead” series. You’d give up 131 hours, or 5 full days plus 11 hours, according to Audacy. And that only gets us up to 2020. There are 3 more years of episodes to take into account.
A special kind of mindlessness is required to binge watch “The Walking Dead.” Piled up on the sofa, ignoring the world, to ignore your own consciousness. To give up more than a week’s waking hours. Eating junk food or delivery. Wearing sweat pants or last night’s pajamas.
You’d almost have to be a zombie to watch so many hours of television about zombies.
To be one of the undead is to be unconscious of the human experience. To tune out and turn off what it means to be human. Whether we’re binge watching, binge eating, or some other addictive, numbing behavior, anything we’re using to stuff or shut down our feelings is the stuff that zombies are made of.
To be alive. To be human, is to place heightened attention on ordinary experience in order to elevate consciousness.
During COVID and the shutdowns, many of us coped with the isolation in a variety of ways. Some of us also shut down as a way to protect ourselves from the waves of collective grief resulting from so many deaths. Others of us chose to use the opportunity to slow down, place heightened attention on the ordinary, and appreciate the experience of living.
Atlanta chef Stephen Satterfield at Miller Union is among the former. He used the time to write “Vegetable Revelations: Inspiration for Produce-Forward Cooking.” It’s both art and craft, produced for everyday kitchens.
What would you be creating if we humans dwelled within our own fully realized consciousness? What would we be called to create? The questions may be rhetorical, but the answers are not.
This Samhain, I invite you to go more deeply into these questions. The exact point when the Sun reaches 15 degrees Scorpio this year, which falls right between Autumnal Equinox and Winter Solstice, occurs on November 7. So from today through November 7, let’s consider the metaphor of the undead in our lives.
How often do you resemble the walking dead, stumbling through your life without realizing what you’re doing or creating? Or is there someone in your life who appears human, who is going through the motions, but who has a deadening effect on your existence?
This “philosopher’s zombie” may look just like you or me, but actually have little capacity for consciousness. This zombie is an unconscious being in a human body who is just going through the motions. Think of the people in your life with whom you spend the most time. Some are real, fully occupying their lives, while others may be vacant. When we pay attention, we can discern those who project a mirror image of humanity but hold only emptiness inside.
When we are fully conscious, we experience our human existence through our own senses, our own bodies, our own memories. When we live fully, flat screen technicolor with surround sound is a poor substitute for the capacity for rich experience that each of us carries as our birthright.
Today, and in the week that lies ahead, you may wish to use your journal to reflect on these Zombie tendencies.
In what areas of your life are you among the walking dead?
- Where are the crazies showing up? Are they in your head? In your bed?
- How might you be living your life as a fully realized person instead of a zombie?
- List 3 things you can do to shake off the crud. Then take action.