Some people are more susceptible to ingrained habits than others.
Now, I’m not an expert on zombies, but it seems to me that there is not a lot of free will hiding behind those lifeless eyes. If some warm flesh comes onto their radar, they might stumble after it, but that is pretty much the extent of their life. They are called the undead, but they might as well be.
A zombie’s life is not worth living.
I don’t know about you, but I have definitely fallen into a zombified groove a few times – to varying degrees of self-detriment. You get comfortable with relationships and you start to neglect them. You talk to the same people, read the same websites and do the same things – allowing your brain to slip into a coma of familiarity. You allow your circumstances and environment to define you – why should you change when nothing around you demands that change?
It’s just easier to live that way. You get by. You don’t know any differently.
But imagine that you neighbour is living in the same way. The parents at your child’s school, and the supporters next to the netball court. Even your dearest friends and family are stuck in their own parallel grooves – they intersect with your groove but they rarely seek to knock you out of it. Why would they? They might endanger their own sense of balance.
Maybe this feeling of consistency is what people might call sanity?
I am not so sure.
A zombie groove can only lead to one place. There is sadly little sanity to be found there.
We read stories about 9-year-olds being weaned off online games by their despairing parents. There is no better illustration of zombification than that, and we are so naturally disposed to it that even little kids (who should be outside playing with their mates) become hooked all too easily. Mental ill-health is a dark and dangerous place.
I bet that if you are honest, you can see that zombie within yourself, just below the surface. You want to find balance, to float along the river of life, but in choosing not to swim against the current every now and again, you also reduce your ability to change when you need to.
With all the shit going on in the world at the moment, who would blame you?
I’m not sure that I have any answers because I am definitely guilty of living like this myself. At times I am a zombie writer – I feel like I have a very fixed style and voice. And, sadly, I am possibly even a zombie parent – I don’t do enough different activities with the kids. And as I slump in front of the latest box set, I know that I could be reading a book, but I tell myself that it won’t make a difference.
I don’t question myself enough. That is the hallmark of a zombie.
So, I am writing this to try to convince myself to shake myself out of those grooves that aren’t so good for me (and even those grooves that are). If you spend long enough in any groove, it will become harder and harder to escape, so when you need to change it might not be possible.
Life is going to throw a lot of challenges our way over the next couple of decades.
If you live like a zombie, are you going to have the capacity to cope?