Not quite as popular as vampires, but not far behind, zombies seems to be all the rage recently, from I Am Legend and Zombieland on the silver screen to the plethora of print offerings, including a "survival guide" on Amazon. What's missing, however, is talk of the fact that without crazy science fiction, we all have a bit of the zombie in us right here, right now, in real life.
The first place we might look -- and this holiday season could not be a better time to do it -- is at our diet. Zombies, remember, began their lives as thinking, feeling, aware and spiritually conscious human beings. Some imaginary agent erased these qualities -- options include a bite, a virus, a chemical, an alien influence -- leaving the zombie an unthinking, unfeeling, unaware, spiritually unconscious entity. In fictional settings, zombies devour whatever is available, and whatever stands in their way. Freshly undead, they eat the flesh of the still-living or the recently deceased. If it's available for consumption, zombies are interested. They have no sense whatsoever of any kind of natural balance, no sense of vanishing resources, no sense of whether other zombies are getting enough to eat. If it's there, they go for it.
Zombies do not care if their food is processed. They do not care if their food has been genetically modified or cloned. They do not care if what they put into their mouths is rife with antibiotics, steroids or chemicals vouchsafed by agribusiness, manufacturers or an agency of questionable independence driven by questionable motives. They do not care if the food they eat is based on the opaque liquid secretion of another species and therefore never intended for people. Zombies cannot read all the scientific studies linking many of these ingredients with chronic, sometimes fatal diseases, nor, of course, can they excuse their unconscious behavior by claiming to have been influenced by powerful corporations running obfuscating spin ads with gigantic media budgets. Zombies don't know the straight scoop from a snow job; they can't even read.
Zombies don't mind drinking themselves into a stupor -- they're already in one. Zombies don't care if what they put in their mouths is loaded with minerals we don't need whilst lacking ones we do. They particularly don't care if many of their foods are artificially and unnaturally flavored. They don't know or care if their food is polluted with too much salt, or poisoned by the addition of a white powder derived from a tropical plant that was at one time treated by a drug by European nobility and thence consumed only in tiny quantities as a titillation. Nope, zombies don't care about any of this, because, being, unthinking, unfeeling and unaware, they lack the capacities of discipline and restraint and the quality of judgment. A zombie doesn't understand the concept of cause and effect, and pays no heed to consequences. Put a zombie down in front of a holiday buffet or office party snacks and booze, and just watch what happens.
Of course zombie weirdness is not only about food, it's about movement, too, and exercise. Zombie bodies, unlike their human precursors, are not built to move. Zombies will sit and gaze vacantly into space until a prey object comes along, or until they smell something to eat. When a zombie does get up and move it pays not the slightest attention to the quality, purpose or results of their movement. It's not about healthful exercise for zombies, nor about pleasure in using their body; it's just about a mindless putting of one foot in front of another. Zombies are not aware that movement without intention or purpose doesn't help their health; they aren't interested in health. They don't care about living and dying; that whole cycle is old news to them. Like sheep, they often move together as a unit, doing or avoiding precisely what other zombies do and avoid. Of course, zombies are not nearly as smart as sheep.
The zombie does have a nervous system, albeit a rudimentary one, so it may well wallow in the discomfort of an overstuffed belly and the pain of lower back muscles seldom or improperly used. It will not notice its own softness of mind, of course, since it doesn't even know it has a brain. The zombie is not aware of the perils of sitting or long periods, either at a desk or on a couch. Mindlessly watching television or stuffing cheesy snacks into their mouth is not a habit that a zombie would question. If the snack is there, a zombie will eat it. If the TV is on, the zombie will watch it, regardless of programming quality or content. The zombie will not think about using holiday time to make a meaningful connection with loved ones or help those in need. The zombie is all about the zombie.
Because the zombie accepts anything it hears or sees as fact -- especially as it has been so trained by official agencies or the general flow of culture -- it will have no idea about the spiritual underpinnings and opportunities of this special time of year. The zombie will assume, if it even bothers to think that much, that this is a season of material consumption, gluttony, stress, loneliness and frenzy for many, whilst entirely missing that it is a season for deep caring, inner reflection and compassionate action for others.
If you want to watch a good zombie flick this year, or read a good zombie thriller, you may have no farther to go than the mirror. If you're awake and there's no hint of the zombie within you, hats off. Otherwise, get rid of it. That way you'll be able to eat delicious, nutritious food and enjoy it with others and in moderation. You'll be able to imbibe with enjoyment without going to excess. You'll be able to think of those less fortunate in your prayers, and help them with your efforts and your wallet. You'll be able to spend some meditative time considering the great spirits who went before us and took great pains to make this season something special.
Your holidays will be much better without your inner zombies.