First of all, I've had a few people ask if I'm going to write something about my MovNat trainer certification experience. I have - two parts, actually. Part 1 will be on MovNat's website and part 2 will be here some time next week, so stay tuned.
I've been out of the video game business for a while now, but I still try to keep tabs on it. This year's E3 (the industry's big trade show) just happened and all the developers/publishers were showing off their big upcoming titles. Of note were Naughty Dog's "The Last of Us" and Ubisoft's "ZombiU." (Warning, both those videos are quite violent) They follow a now well established resurgence of interest in post-apocalyptic scenarios, perhaps best epitomized by the good ol' Zombie Apocalypse.
There's no denying that our culture has an obsession with this idea. What's strange is that a significant number of people express a desire for such an event to actually occur. Obviously anyone who is sane doesn't mean it literally, but still, what's going on with that? I made a quip on Facebook a few weeks ago about how I wasn't sure if enthusiasts really understood what the words "apocalypse" and "zombie" meant. I don't mean to mock anyone's fantasies here - making fun of fantasies for being unrealistic is like making fun of children for growing taller - I just find the whole thing very interesting and telling.
While our classic post-apocalyptic stories grew out of trying to make sense of our general unease/dread of a thermonuclear end to the Cold War, I think this latest round of enthusiasm speaks to something else. See, here's the thing about the post-apocalypse: you don't have to pay your taxes. Or rent. Or go to your awful job and get yelled at by your boss. You are perfectly liberated. At the same time, all of your experiences would be extremely real, raw, immediate, and visceral. Your full calendar and endless to-do list? Out the window. The only task for the day is to survive. Beautifully simple and straightforward, right? No chronic stress about looming deadlines etc. Back to good old fashioned fight/flight just like nature intended. Note that it's also an intensely physical lifestyle. You have no choice but to be fully engaged with your body and your environment. As our modern lives disconnect us more and more from both, such and existence becomes more romantic.
If we dig in a few layers deeper, I think there's a lot of environmental concerns/nostalgia at work here. A lot of modern post-apocalyptic art highlights nature reclaiming urban areas. Everything is quiet - no traffic noise, airplane noise, no construction noise, no constant beeping of phones. Perhaps this speaks to a universal desire to reconnect with the natural world and enjoy a moment of peace and quiet?
We could continue this analysis all day, but here's the point I want to make: Our cultural obsession with post-apocalyptic scenarios speaks to a widespread dissatisfaction with our current lifestyles. We feel trapped and we want a release.
Well, there's good news. You can fulfill basically all the elements of post-apocalyptic life I listed above without the need for that messy apocalypse bit. It won't necessarily be easy, but it's entirely doable. Take time to declutter your life. Explore some minimalism and begin to pare away excess - starting with physical stuff then moving onto lifestyle. Work on ways to manage your stress - maybe meditation, maybe more sleep, maybe identifying and removing the source of the stress. If you hate your job, figure out how to quit and do something you enjoy. Reconnect with your body by moving it more - some people call that exercise. Reconnect with the natural world by spending more quality time in it. Take risks - revel in your accomplishments and learn from your mistakes. Make some time for yourself. Yes, all of this is easier said than done, but it's all entirely doable.
If you want more, perhaps you should look into Urban Exploring. You might want to consider getting into Urban Agriculture. You just might want to look into protecting open spaces in your community.
In short, we can make the world we want to live in, on an individual level but also on a societal level. I really think we all must make an effort to live simply and sustainably - for our own health and happiness, sure, but also because it shouldn't take a global catastrophe for us to see the error of our ways. Let's take steps now to avoid the apocalypse. I'd really miss the coffee.