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What We Can Learn From Zombies About Life Force

I don't want to be a zombie. I want to live a passionate life full of love that has lots of choices. Mostly, I don't want to have that blank creepy look on my face as I walk down the street.
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Isn't it ironic? I'm writing about zombies in the "Living" section. I think we can learn a lot about life force from those that really don't have any. In 1978 when I was but a wee teenager, the movie Dawn of the Dead introduced me to the horror of zombies. What was scarier about the movie than all the gore was the fact that all the zombies congregated at the mall. Hey, in those days, we teens spent a lot of time there, so the theme really hit home. Of course, now I've realized many adults also spend lots of time at malls. One of the great lines from that movie comes when a character wonders why the zombies are coming in hordes to the mall and another man replies, "Instinct, memory, what they used to do, this was an important place in their lives."

I've done a lot of zombie exploration since seeing that movie thirty one years ago. I've read The Zombie Survival Guide, by Max Brooks (lots of great tips in there, let me tell you). I also read his book World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. I've read Volume I of the graphic novel The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore. And of course I've played the video games Left 4 Dead and the Call of Duty Nazi Zombie game on our Xbox 360. Here are a few observations...zombies do the most obvious thing in front of them without thought or passion. They have deeply ingrained habits. They live but have no life force. Oh, and they'd love to eat you if they could.

In today's society we move beyond just reading about zombies or seeing them on the big screen. We can fight back. With the advent of video games, you can take on zombies. There's something very satisfying about that. Symbolically, you can take on societal forces that want you to numb out, insist that you follow the flock or that tell you that you cannot pursue your dreams. The video game Left 4 Dead has team play and one of the main characters is a woman. That rocks. You work with others to fight off the zombies. I like the part where the female character Zoey says in an oh-so-feminine voice, "reloading". It's cathartic to face death energy and fire a virtual shotgun at it. It's also challenging. Let me tell you, some of those zombies can move pretty darn fast. But the thing is, you don't see them making art, playing in the yard or growing a garden. They are hell-bent on one thing and one thing only -- consuming.

OK, so let's go back to the mall notion for a moment. I went to one recently. There is a new outdoor addition to the giant Santa Anita Mall in Arcadia, California. I watched as people milled through there and suddenly I had chills. What was familiar about this scene? Oh yes, 1978, Dawn of The Dead, the mall scene. Of course the people in the Arcadia mall weren't trying to eat me, but they had one thing in mind and one thing only: consuming. Oh, so that's part of the social satire director George Romero was showing us when he made the film. Now I get it. What I also get is that I don't want to be a zombie. I want to live a passionate life full of love that has lots of choices. Mostly, I don't want to have that blank creepy look on my face as I walk down the street or through a mall.

Here's my plan. I'm going to play zombie games for short bursts so I can feel like I'm fighting zombie energy. I'll do something I love to do several times a day, like ride my motorcycle, hike, write and spend time with family. I'll tell my family and friends how much I appreciate them. I'll write my congressman and tell him what I really think about some of our government's latest zombie moves when it comes to doing business as usual. Hey, I think I've just discovered the antidote to becoming a social zombie...using my life force for real passion and not just for consuming. So who's with me? After playing Left 4 Dead and watching Dawn of the Dead I've learned that fighting zombie energy works out much better when it is done as a team.

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