As a member of a multi-billion dollar corporation, that shall remain nameless, although we did get a new CEO in November. One of the corporate requirements for all of its employees is passing a fitness test regular. Because of this, I found myself running at the local park last night where God as my witness I saw a real-life zombie. Now you’re probably curious, was it rotting? Did it have flesh on its teeth? How did I get away? This zombie was a white grandmother. She was wearing her best attempt at workout clothes. An old T-shirt and some shorts splattered in paint. She was wearing white Reebok tennis shoes that had to be older than me. She wasn’t charging straight towards me with a look of hunger or rage in her eyes. In truth, she didn’t seem to realize I was running anywhere near here. In the south, I have come to expect a gentle head nod, a good morning or even a way anytime day or night when I see some passerby. This woman didn’t seem to acknowledge my existence. I went out of my way to turn my head and nod as I said good evening to her. Only her eyes moved slightly in my direction, and she gave such a subtle head nod I wasn’t sure she gave me one at all. Then as the miles dragged on, I passed her again and several more men and women. Each one seemed slightly less interested in my existence than she was. I was convinced I was living the emperors’ new clothes and they were all secretly laughing at me when I rounded a corner away from them. I couldn’t get over this even as I gasped for breath and my feet ached I was caught by the sheer overwhelming lack of interest in the people I passed. It wasn’t just me, and it wasn’t only those running. Even the casual walker who had brought their dog for an evening stroll didn’t catch the gaze or share the comment with anyone walking. Their empty gazes with their glassed over eyes neither her nor there. They simply are.
Zombies do exist. You’re one of them! And so am I. In your day to day, life think about how you’re just focusing on the task at hand. Or how when you kiss your significant other goodbye in the, morning and you say goodbye you’re just saying it and doing it purely out of habit or impulse. When was the last time you sat down at the dinner table, and you stare down at your plate of spaghetti, and as everyone talks you, you were never quite sure what they’re saying? As you think about tomorrows meetings, the customers you dealt with today, the work you’ll have to do tomorrow or how you need to get a new car because the transmission is about to go out. You’re not living, and you’re not dead. You exist somewhere in-between. You are a zombie. Life brings small pleasures based on quick breaks from the spell you’ve fallen under.
The next time you step out, say hello to a stranger and mean it. Quit watching so much T.V. and pick up a book. Go for a walk to stare at the trees and watch the squirrels. Not because the doctor said you should and not so you can think about tomorrows troubles. Be in that moment, or you will never be at all. Take a chance, or there’s a chance you’ll never be at all. Those are my thoughts exactly.
One of the great things about children is that they have no other concern than to be simply interested in things. It is considered by some the height of mindfulness to approach the world afresh like a child.
– John Dickerson