Descent into Zombieland


I haven’t written in a couple of weeks. The days are getting darker, and I’ve got zombies on my mind. It doesn’t have anything to do with Halloween; it doesn’t really have anything to do with the Walking Dead (although that’s been on my mind, too). It’s because I’ve been feeling a little undead myself…

The short days and wet weather haven’t helped, but I’m certain my return to work is the main source of this post-apocalyptic malaise. The glow of my six-week parental leave has sort of worn off as the pressures of a regular corporate job have crept back into my daily routine. It’s only taken a few weeks for those tentacles to tighten up, and they’ve left me lacking much in the way of creative energy. Someone very important to us had a really big win last week against a mean medical opponent, and that provided a real boost. But then, as it often will, Death showed its ugly face where we least expected it and struck down a neighbour, another father of a young boy.

(ed: And then, last night, a bunch of assholes killed a lot of innocent people in a beautiful city.)

So, yeah, I’ve been thinking about zombies.

I look at my sweet little Egg and see the perfect manifestation of tiny, flesh-hungry reanimated corpse. When you try, it doesn’t take long to come up with a list of striking similarities:

  • Face and hands constantly covered in debris of questionable origin
  • The rambling, jerky quality to his movement that a Walking Dead casting director would prize
  • Moaning that comes in different tones that all reflect a relentless wanting of something or other
  • Rest/sleep not required to maintain energy for that relentless pursuit. Like an undead Energizer bunny, he just keeps on going
  • Liable to bite any thing, at any time
  • Attracted/transfixed by loud noises and blinking lights
  • Grabs and claws at body parts regardless of how sensitive or vulnerable those body parts might be
  • His eating…don’t get me started on his eating. Substitute his chopped up penne and chicken for a plate of human intestines and you’ve got a scene of horror that George A. Romero couldn’t imagine in his darkest nightmares

It’s easy to get carried away with this. What am I to make of the fact that I’m looking at my beautiful, innocent baby boy and thinking of a bloodthirsty, amoral automaton from the end of the world?

Obviously the problem’s not him, it’s me.

As I sit here organizing my thoughts, I’m realizing that’s he’s actually becoming much less like a zombie with every passing day. He’s moving more smoothly now and with a deliberate purpose that wasn’t there even a couple of weeks ago. After two months of what seemed like wasted time trying to teach him sign language, he has mastered his first sign (“Eat,” what else?) and is getting really close to catching onto more signs, unlocking a new era of communication. Where he used to devour anything put in front of him he’s now more discriminating, picking out veggies he doesn’t like. Most amazingly, he seems to be developing real relationships with our pets and his little girlfriends, and demonstrates genuine care and gentleness towards them. What zombies can you say that about?

While I’ve spent these past couple of weeks thinking about the undead, this boy is becoming more alive right in front of me. And that’s my big take-away this week. I’m much too young to be looking at the world with such tired eyes, and by properly focusing in on this growing kid I can feel rejuvenated. The apocalypse is still a pretty long ways off. And while that rejuvenation isn’t in itself a solution to all the problems outside, having that brighter perspective makes me feel more ready to take the world on.




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