(Caution: slight spoilers… though I can in no way ruin the experience for you. I promise.)
I read World War Z by Max Brooks this week. And this is how I felt during the last few chapters:
oh, gosh, what have I done
Do I recommend it?
Did I fancy myself tough enough to read it?
Was I, though?
Through the accounts of many “high up” people who survived the zombie apocalypse, or simply, Zack (Zombie Attack… though this was never specified), we are given a taste of what it might be like to have the living undead knocking on your door. Or through your windows.
At first I thought, “This is so smart… so well written… so in detail about government policies, official plans, the screw ups of every country in dealing with Zack, that it was hardly even scary.” I was too distracted by the rich dialogue and professional zeal many of the characters possessed.
Yeah, I can handle it.
Then, when I read more about what humans did to survive, and how crazy humans can get in a dire, world-wide epidemic, my blood ran a little faster through my veins. Cannibalism? Eh… I can handle it. Starvation and staying away from the moans and groans of the enemy who are in Total War (never resting… never ceasing… something humans are virtually incapable of being, though Zack is only capable of being such), and just waiting around every corner for you to make a peep? Oh yeah, and when they start to groan, it’s like a feeding call, and they all swarm toward you. Eh… when are you coming home, Greg?
unless you become a zombie instead. pretty sure they don’t stay together
I was, in fact, home alone when I read the part about humans who had gone so crazy that they acted, in every way, like a zombie, yet had never been bitten. These humans, quislings, as they are called, are actually more of a threat than real zombies. They are even crazier. They don’t freeze as quickly. They carry diseases in their mouths that will cause death. They will attack you even faster than a regular zombie, probably.
Well, rest assured I locked every window, kept on every single light, turned off my music, and sat in silence as I finished the book.
I was terrified.
Because, folks, that’s what happens when I read a book!!! I cannot help it. I am so deep in it. I imagine I’m there… I’m that kid trying to get out of my thirteenth floor apartment building with bed sheets tied together, fighting off Zack at every turn, every time I land on a balcony, every time I try to gather supplies, and knowing that I have to face millions once my feet reach the ground. I am that lady who has to make it through the forest alone, after my flight team has died, and try not to make a single noise, knowing the undead are lurking everywhere. I am that guy who had to fight off the underground tunnels in Europe, where many people sought refuge, and it turned out to be a living hell. I am that little girl whose family had to resort to eating others as they froze off, once our family was established around a lake in the North and winter came. I am Melinda, who is freaking freaking out.
That’s that way my mind works. That’s why I love reading. It’s why I cry so often when I read. It’s why I can’t sleep after reading something terrifying.
Some people love that kind of a rush. I never seek it and I don’t love it. Luckily, the scared feeling left pretty quickly. It was mostly that night alone at our house when it was windy and the gate outside our window kept creaking open.
Yeah, that was the worst of it.
I survived Zack, just like the characters in this book.
You will, too, I think. ;)
Have you read World War Z? Did you see the movie? I would never see the movie.
Do you love the feeling of being scared? Give me some of your bravery via internet comments… I need it!
Yes, I am one of those annoying 23-year-olds who offend anyone over the age of 30 by saying out loud, “I feel like I’m getting old.” People, I didn’t even want to turn 16. My 15-year-old self said, “Um, I’m good. I really don’t want to be turning 16. I’m already halfway to 30. That’s enough.” So each year when I become an older person, I sort of hate it. I’m sorry, but that’s just how it feels sometimes.
Especially when T. Swift’s song, 22, comes on the radio. I can no longer relate to such a song.
HOWEVER! Sometimes I get one of those oh so lovely reminders that I am very lucky to be aging (somewhat gracefully, I hope) and to be past certain aspects of my life. Such as:
Today I was in the parking lot behind my work. It just so happens to back up against the field of the high school I attended. The timing was perfect, and I witnessed a class doing P.E. outside on said field. I felt so sorry for those students. P.E. was a nightmare for me. If you know me in person, you might have already heard my schpeal (did I spell that right?) on public school physical education. I think it does two things, and pretty much only these two things: 1) elevates the athletic kids to a higher level and 2) scars the un-athletic kids for life, possibly making them never want to wear a sneaker ever again. I know the arguments. I know that it’s supposed to be good, and where else will some kids ever get any exercise? and how else will they learn essential life skills like getting smacked in the face with a dodge ball (me)? and we can’t possibly eliminate P.E. in school because it’s too important. Ha. To that I say, How about we start funding a real Home Economics class, where instead of learning to sew a teddy bear on the end of their pencils, students learn how to make a great meal out of scratch? How about we talk about how food is just as important to an overall healthy lifestyle, if not more important than playing soccer for one humiliating hour of their lives? Oh my gosh. If I don’t stop now, I never will. And this is not what this blog is about. This blog is about being happy to be getting older!!! Which I am. NO MORE PHYSICAL EDUCATION!!!! Luckily, I did put on a sneaker again, and I am more physically active in my life than ever before. No thanks, by the way, to P.E.
BEING TOO TAN
I was one of those teenagers who paid to lay in a tanning bed. I did. Can’t tell you why. Can’t tell you what I was thinking. All I can say is, I’m glad my family no longer makes fun of my always orange/red nose. It was ridiculous and I’ll eat leafy greens every day for my entire life trying to undo the damage. (I didn’t edit the picture below at all… that’s me in all my too-tan glory!)
17 in this picture. I’m burnt to a crisp, while Meredith is a healthy tone. Oh my word.
BEING IN A LONG DISTANCE RELATIONSHIP
It was freaking hard, being apart from Greg. But we did it!!! We made it through two years long distance. The odds were against us and we beat ’em! My first two years of college were spent mostly talking to Greg on the phone and looking up the next flight I could get to go see him in Nashville. At the time I thought it would never end. Now, it feels like a lifetime ago.
first long distance reunion
up close photos…
Seriously. It’s silly. These are just 5 out of probably one million too many photos that look exactly the same. (That last one, btw, was taken at 3 A.M. after we packed up all of Greg’s stuff in Nashville… meaning we no longer had a long distance relationship. It was a good day!!) I’m glad to be living every day with Greg and to no longer feel the need to document each breath we take in each other’s presence.
FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL PHOTOS
I think each one taken of me, each year, was embarrassing. This is one of my favorites:
I actually begged my mom for these jeans. “The baggier, the better, Mom.”
Never again. Notta. Now I set my own goals, get my own work done, and it’s on no one’s time schedule but my own. Goodness, I love that.
AND BEST OFF ALL… GETTING OLDER MEANS…
STILL BEING ALIVE
Yes, it’s true. Getting older means I have made it this far, and for that, I should only be thankful. I read a quote that said “Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.”
Each wrinkle, each sun spot, each time I bend over and make a slight grunting noise to stand back up straight (yikes), I will remember these things. I will remember that I no longer have to suffer through P.E., I no longer have to get ready for the first day of school, I now get to see Greg every single day, I don’t have homework to do and I only get tan when I actually spend time outside.
In another three months I’ll be 24 and I’m sure I’ll have days when I dread it. But when I consider my life, what it has become through this process of getting older, I can really only think of good things. Actually, getting older isn’t scary at all. I wish I could go back and tell my 15-year-old self that. But at least I know it now.
And workout? And read an entire book in less than a week? And cook all of my meals from scratch? And spend a large portion of my day just sitting outside, watching birds or gardening or hanging up the laundry to dry?
Okay, I added all of the others, after the first simple question, How do I find time to write? But I’ve had at least a few people ask me these questions at different times. I really have. And I will be the FIRST to admit that I don’t have a perfect scheduled out system to my life. I forget things, I make mistakes and I do waste time.
Just not very often.
Let me give you a clue as to WHY.
Here are some pictures, taken at different angles, of my living room/dining room.
Piano and bookshelf
Greg plays the piano ALL THE TIME!!! Coolest thing about it? I grew up with my dad playing this very same piano. My parents recently bought a new vintage piano and gave us this one. Also- this bookshelf is inside the wall. No space is wasted and it is beautifully carved out of wood.
Here’s a close up of the picture of my grandmother, which is sitting on the piano.
My lovely Grandma, Pearl, sitting at her typewriter :)
Okay, more pictures. Keep looking to find out what’s missing!!!
“Dining room” and front door
Best part of this picture is the table that my parents bought when they were newlyweds. I wouldn’t buy a new one, ever.
Christmas trees and music :)
Yes, we keep our Christmas tree up all year long. We’ve had it up since October 31st, 2010, when we bought it on sale at Hobby Lobby. This room is usually filled with band equipment for Wildewood.
Where I read!
And there you have it. The rest of the house is similar. We have a small bedroom with hardly anything inside, a laundry room with a computer for Greg to work on music recordings, and another room that stores most of Wildewood’s equipment and Greg’s big drum set. It’s a modest, yet amazingly comfortable and spacious living arrangement. Oh, it’s also on a half acre. Don’t ask me how we got so lucky. But ask me how often I thank God for such a home. Answer: Every single day.
Did you see it? Or NOT see it? Have you guessed it yet?
I can read, write, blog, clean, sit in the warm sun, garden, workout and spend time with my husband ….ALL BECAUSE…
We have no TV. There it is. This is not a TV bashing blog, either. But will I ever own one again? Not for all the money in the world. (Okay, come to me with a million dollars and I might buy one. But that doesn’t mean it’ll be where anyone can see it)
In our last place, a small apartment, I really tried to evaluate why I was either unhappy (at times), felt lazy or fat (at times), or felt disconnected with the world around me (almost all the time.) I remember this specific moment. I was watching a “reality” show. Maybe it was The Hills? I’m not quite sure. But what I do know is this: I thought to myself, “Oh my gosh. Here I am, watching someone else live their life. How lame. I need to go live my own life!” And there you have it. Greg and I moved into this place, got rid of our TV, and we’ve never looked back.
I know what some of you are thinking. But, Melinda, The Hills is trash reality TV and I watch great shows or the Food Network or the Discovery Channel… I don’t waste time. I learn and laugh and relax after a really long day.
Well, I say HOORAY for all of those people who do exactly that. I would say in the beginning that I did miss those “good” TV shows. I like watching other people cook. I love a good special on Abraham Lincoln or a newly discovered animal in the ocean. But do I still miss it at all? Does it even EVER cross my mind? No.
In fact, I am still very busy and on the days when I have zero time to relax, I often wonder how in the world anyone has time for TV. I know that most people are on even tighter schedules than I am! Explain that!
Having no TV hardly makes me a hermit, either. We have Netflix and we watch movies on our laptop. Um… we have the INTERNET… so, yeah, it’s not like we miss out on any news. Simply having a twitter account makes me weirdly more informed about the world than I ever wanted to be.
I recently read this awesome blog about budgeting money. It made me think. I may not be the best at budgeting money, but I have become really good at budgeting my time. It’s something I can truly say I’ve grown to be good at, and I wouldn’t trade my life for anything. Here’s what a typical day looks like for the Williams household:
Greg and I try to wake up together, and unless he has to work at 5 (yikes!), which is rare, we make this happen. Our usual wake up time is anywhere from 6:00 to 7:00, depending. We wake up at LEAST an hour and a half before either of us have to leave. Why? So we can do this:
-Greg makes the coffee
-I made the breakfasts
-Weather permitting, we sit outside to eat and drink
-We might both spend 30 minutes reading
-We might start chatting, which I always love
-I’ll go for a thirty minute run or do a workout at home
-We talk about our days, challenges we might face, and how excited we are for the relaxing evening to come
Greg and I both work. He works full time and I work part time. (I do, however, spend more than a full timer’s worth of time writing.) If we happen to have a day off together, you can bet we’ve done these things:
-Gone on a short walk
-Made some more coffee and sat outside (bird watching is our new hobby)
-Greg will practice harmonica/drums/piano
-Whip up a good and healthy lunch
-Do laundry, sweep the floor
-Laugh our heads off at least three times (Greg is the funniest person I know)
This is where life really gets busy. Greg, being in a band, has lots of practices and shows. On a rare evening when we have “nothing” to do we’ll make time for:
-Making dinner together
-Talking about our day
-Getting caught up on life… dishes, putting AWAY the previously washed laundry… etc
-Reading some more
-Writing some more
-Practicing music some more
-Going on that run, if I didn’t get to it in the A.M.
See what I mean? Nowhere in there do we have space or a care to “budget” our time to fit in TV watching. Books are better, anyway. It might seem boring. I’m sure what I’ve just described, as a life being lived, seems utterly unexciting to the untrained eye. However, it is anything BUT. We spend quality time. I’ve learned to appreciate the sound of birds and learning what type they are. I’ve learned to savor each moment of silence I can muster up in a day, preferably with Greg right alongside me. I’ve learned to garden and I actually look forward to picking weeds. I get to be outside, I’m healthy and have a body that’s able, and I am caring for something that will provide me with vegetables and fruit to eat.
One drawback, if you can call it that, is how sensitive I have become to too much noise and distraction. I feel just a tad overwhelmed when I am somewhere with TVs blaring or a hundred different sounds buzzing around my head. I feel as if I can’t even listen to or hear the person sitting right next to me. Even in the car, if Greg and I have music playing, we’ll usually both reach to turn it down at the exact same time, and laugh and say, “I couldn’t hear a word you were saying.”
I guess that means I’ve learned to give my full attention to one thing at a time. Plus, I’m addicted to reading. This past month we got our Netflix DVD in the mail and we put off watching the movie for two weeks because each night, when it came down to it, Greg and I both opted for our books instead.
I’m not saying you should go throw your TV out on the curb today. I realize that for some people, this is extreme. (Like the lady who told us we were practically Amish for not owning a microwave… I think she’d faint if she read this.) But just like my last post about phones, I guess the reason for writing this is to encourage people to follow their dreams and not have distractions from those dreams. IMAGINE what you could accomplish if instead of watching TV for two hours a day, you did something productive… something you’ve always wanted to do. Like…
-get in shape (those two hours could be spend hitting the pavement)
-WRITE (it takes tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime)
-sign up for an art class
-go outside and TAKE A WALK (the most therapeutic thing on the planet, in my opinion)
-or whatever it is you’ve been putting off!!
JUST DO IT! (like Nike says…)
Your brain, body, and family will thank you for it. I promise! Feel free to ask me anything about my no-TV household. It’s a topic I’m very passionate about and I have a LOT MORE to say, believe it or not.
Let me know how it goes, or if you do something similar!
I have this, ahem, problem with “smart phones.” They make me nervous. Therefore, I still have a regular old flip phone. Or what someone referred to the other day as a “dumb phone.” I love it. I can text and make phone calls. I wish it didn’t have voicemail, because I hate listening to voicemails and it gives me anxiety. (I think this might stem back to high school, when the only person who ever left me a voicemail was my dad, and it was usually when I was in trouble, not answering my phone… but that’s a whole different issue.)
This has caused me problems, I won’t lie. I’ve been lost without a way to look up directions. But hasn’t everyone, up until this recent phenomenon that is the smart phone, been a little lost? I know I’m not dealing with something new. Finding everything at the click of a button is new.
Back before Greg ran over his iPhone with the minivan, I would occasionally look at his phone and wonder why every ad that showed up on websites was showing me drums. Or recording equipment. Or harmonicas. I quickly realized that somehow, this little phone was tracking all of the searches Greg was making and then showing him what he wanted in the ad space.
The realization literally sent shivers down my spine.
My computer does this same thing, of that I am aware. I’ve had some smart tech-y type people tell me that there are ways to avoid this from happening, but it really doesn’t make me feel any better. The fact that someone, somewhere out there, knows what Greg or I look up on our phone or laptop just makes me nervous. It’s a little too Nineteen Eighty-Four. It’s a little too creepy. I don’t want anyone to know what I’m doing (except for what I post on Hey Lou!)
The whole reason why I’m even writing this is because I seem to have lost my camera. We can’t find it anywhere. And now that we are left with my flip phone and Greg’s even worse replacement a co-worker gave him for free, we have almost no way to take decent pictures. I love adding pictures to my blog. If I had instagram or one of those fancy “newest version” smartphones I’d have some of the clearest, cutest pictures out there. I’ve seen them. It really is amazing.
I won’t deny that the technology of today is practically a miracle. People walk around with access to EVERYTHING. Every person they could ever want to communicate with… every store they could want to buy from… every song they could want to listen to. It’s a modern luxury that has become so common, that to be without a smartphone makes me kind of a rare breed.
But let me tell you something:
Once, about a year ago, I lost my phone. Or broke it. I hardly remember what happened to said phone. But what I do know is that I waited THREE MONTHS to replace it. Yes. Three months. Can you imagine? Three months without a phone? Here are some examples of what the outcome was:
– I felt FREE. No one could get a hold of me, except through Greg’s phone.
– I was the safest driver in all of New Mexico .
– I didn’t make it to at least three events, because I am horrible at directions and had no way to call and figure it all out.
– I became organized. I had to plan ahead. Decide where and when to meet people. Greg and I had to communicate more than ever, about our work schedules and what we had planned. I had to write down all of my reminders on an actual calendar, not on my phone.
– I read twice as much as I usually do (which is quite a lot).
– I wrote twice as much as I usually do (which is a quite a lot, too).
– I began to love it and dreaded getting a new phone.
– I started seeing the negative effects that phones have on others. I remember sitting at lunch with a friend, and she looked at her phone non stop. I realized that I, too, had been guilty of this and I hated it. I hated the fact that something held in her hand and shown on a screen could be more important than the conversation we were having.
– I had way less anxiety. No “unknown” number could call me and leave an ominous voicemail. IT WAS AMAZING.
WORTH missing a few things I had planned… and besides, I got better at looking up directions before I drove away from my house.
Now that I have my little old flip phone, things have changed again. I use it to text Greg funny messages throughout the day and to check in when either of us gets home. I have used the hilarious excuse of a camera on this phone to take pictures that I have used for this blog. I’ve made it successfully to everything I had planned, given that my phone wasn’t dead.
But you know what? Sometimes I “forget” my phone. I … drumroll… venture out of the house without it. On purpose!!!
You can’t imagine how liberating it feels. Sometimes I come home and zero has happened. Does that make me an unpopular person? Maybe. All I know is that each time I separate myself from the little black thing that I realize is sometimes glued to my hand, I never seem to miss anything Earth shattering.
I love to use the word “cahoots.”
As in, “I truly believe that the standardized testing people are in CAHOOTS with the scan tron companies, because they both make so much money off of each other and it isn’t really about the students at all.”
“I think the flip phone people are in CAHOOTS with the smartphone people, because mine seems to malfunction every day. Are they doing that on purpose so that I switch over to the dark side?”
Call me a conspiracy theorist… I’ll agree with you. Call me crazy… and I’ll argue against that. All I am asking is that you at least TRY to free yourself of the bondage that is a cell phone. Maybe take baby steps. Ten minutes a day. Then twenty. Eventually, you’ll leave the house without it and you won’t turn around to go get it. You’ll be fine!
I know lots of successful people who are attached to their phones. I know that people get work information and doctors are on call. I’m not talking about the extreme cases. I’m talking about the average person who seems to have morphed lately, in the past decade, to someone who can’t function without a phone in their hand. Maybe step one for you is setting your phone down, rather than holding onto it.
I’m trying to get him to pose… but he’s too distracted by his phone! :P
You might find yourself reading more, writing more, laughing more, sleeping more, or communicating with others in a way you forgot was possible.
Just try it? For me? And then let me know how it’s going :)
(one great thing I discovered, trying to stay off the computer as much as possible, as well as my phone, is that setting specific time aside to check emails and do all of the technology related stuff at once has really helped.)
When I say I’m writing all day long, it usually means that I wander over to do the dishes…fold some laundry…text Greg to see how work is going…and then sit down again to type. That’s not to say that I’m not thinking of what it is I am going to write the entire time. I can’t really stop my mind from thinking the next thought or coming up with the next character.
I like to call this rehearsing. I rehearse all day long, even if I’m busy at work. I never get writer’s block, if I count all the thinking I do as part of the writing process.
Today, as I sat in our hallway (because it heats up faster than the entire house), I listened to music the entire time. One song that really stuck out to me was Cory Branan’s song Survivor Blues. If you haven’t heard of him, look him up. And listen to Survivor Blues. Cory has written some of the most poignant lyrics I have ever heard and some of the most profound are in this one song.
We’ve all heard that old phrase:
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
It’s a popular tattoo. A very clichéd bit of advice to give someone who has had a horrible day.
But what about the flip side to that? What about that terrible, gut wrenching pain that some people feel? Survivor Blues states it plainly:
‘They say it makes you stronger
But first you gotta survive”
What a concept. First, you have to survive whatever it is that is potentially going to make you stronger. It might really suck. The next lyrics says,
“What didn’t kill you will make you wish you died”
Again… what a concept. I’m usually a pretty optimistic person, but yes, there have been days where I felt this way. OR days where I knew someone else was going through something so terrible that this was how they felt.
Yet, at the end of the day, people are resilient. Even people who think to themselves that they’d rather have died than survived whatever they just lived through… even they come out on top. They DO eventually get stronger.
It’s the surviving that counts, though.
Right now I’m constantly inside the world of a character I’ve written, Ezra, who has survived something I would consider awful. If I were him, I’d even wish that I could have died at times. This is what characters do… at least the ones who stay with us as readers. They survive anything. They hit rock bottom and somehow, some way, rise up again. It can be a struggle, a messy, ugly one at that, but a successful struggle in the end. (except for those extremely depressing stories where everything goes to hell and never comes back. but those aren’t the standard… or my favorite)
I hope that as you live your own story and continue to be the main character in your own lives, that you are all surviving whatever it is you are going through!
I am even worse at consoling someone who is crying or has just told me something awful. My good friend Tiffany (known her since we were 13!!) laughs with me and she admits it- I’ve pretty much been really awkward whenever it came to a sad moment of hers.
Tiff and me at least 4 years ago… luckily she has remained my friend!! :)
“The one thing people are most liberal with, is their advice.” -Francois de La Rochefoucauld
I just don’t know what to do. Some girls are so great with words. They start the confident and ever-so-sure ramblings of, “Oh, girl, you can do soooo much better! Just wait- he’ll get what’s coming to him. You are amazing. You will move on from this and not even remember it! HE’S STUPID!” or “I’m so sorry for your loss. Just know that God needed another angel. You’ll see them again someday. They’re watching over you….”
Yikes. I just can’t do that.
So if you’re coming to me with an issue, this will most likely be my reaction…
“Wow- I’m sorry. I really don’t know what to say.”
Then I will pat your back. I might give you a side hug. If we’re at coffee and we have to stand up to hug, I might make that a very awkward moment, too. Basically, I feel so, so sorry for anyone who comes to me with their issues. I feel so much empathy, I will most likely cry later- after the moment has passed. I recently saw a friend who told me something so heartbreaking that I cried on my way home. I was bawling in the car like a fool and making the road a more dangerous place.
The reason why I think this is okay:
I don’t think people really want that advice.
Yes, I guess it’s nice to hear all of those things about whatever guy just broke up with you. But honestly? Maybe he is a good guy. Maybe he got good grades and isn’t really stupid at all. And I can’t promise that you will move on or not remember this moment of hurting. That’s a silly thing to promise someone, isn’t it? (please tell me I’m not the only one thinking of Dori in Finding Nemo… “Hmm…that’s a funny thing to promise….Well, you can’t never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him. Not much fun for little Harpo.”) I don’t control your emotions.
But yes… someone can always do better than someone who hurt them. Of course. I really hope that girls (and guys) realize this, but for some reason I rarely feel as if it’s my place to tell them.
And I will always be sorry for someone’s loss. Always. Again, I’ll most likely cry and be in this weird, somber-like mood that drives Greg crazy for a few days. God didn’t need another angel, angels are already there and we don’t get wings when we go to heaven. There goes that. I have no idea if dead people are watching over us, but I, too, would like to believe that that’s the case. I don’t want to lie to anyone who is going through something so serious and life changing. What are my words, anyway?
I like advice from Little Women.
When Jo asks Friedrich, “What’s going to happen?”
He says, “The inevitable.”
Simple, concise advice.
And later, Amy says to her sister, “You don’t need scores of suitors. You only need one, if he’s the right one.”
Simple wins again.
Here’s a great example of why sometimes [unsolicited] advice is just silly. Every high school and college graduate has been told to “take the road less traveled by,” which has been misunderstood altogether. If anyone were to look at the rest of the Robert Frost poem, they’d see that:
“…Though as for that the passing there, had worn them really about the same.”
Hidden meaning? It doesn’t really matter which way you go. Both paths could lead to good or bad things. It’s cynical, which isn’t usually my style, but I think it’s honest.
At the end of the day, I’ll leave you with this quote:
“It is a bit embarrassing to have been concerned with the human problem all one’s life and find at the end that one has no more to offer by way of advice than ‘try to be a little kinder.’” -Aldus Huxley
Or perhaps understood silence is better.
I sure hope so, or I’ve been a pretty awful friend.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Nature is a beautiful thing. The trees, the way they sway in the breeze, the fresh air, sounds of birds chirping all over the place… the cool and crisp morning that wakes you up. It all amounts to that stereotypical way many of us view nature- as a very peaceful, harmonious place. That’s so very true on many levels, but then again, there’s the side that is pretty downright vicious and mean and relies solely on survival of the fittest.
WHERE BOTH BEARS WERE SIGHTED!!!!
Take for instance, seeing my first BEAR. This might sound fun, like a movie or something, but I’ll tell you right now- it was scary. Greg saw two bears! I am thankful I only encountered one. After a day of calling elk in and not seeing any movement, I took the arrow off of my bow, made to leave the area, and when I stood back up there was a HUGE cinnamon bear (which we learned is technically a black bear) not more than twenty-five yards away. I began whispering to Greg (Fantastic Mr. Fox style, here) “Oh, cuss, oh, cuss, oh, cuss…” and hyperventilating. Greg kept calm, reminded me he had his pistol, while I’m shaking and trying to get my arrow back on my bow. The bear looked at us with its stuffed-animal-perfect -teddy-bear-face, and then disinterestedly walked away. WHEW. Talk about dodging a bullet, and that bullet is being eaten by a freaking bear.
Katniss style- my view when I hold my bow :)
NEVER before in my life had I been
a) in the wilderness for a full day of my life, from sun-up to sun-down
b) in a close proximity with something that could take my life in one swift move, or
c) so afraid for my actual life.
The whole aspect of nature and naturalism suddenly became close to home. I understood it better than ever before.
In Jack London’s To Build a Fire, naturalism is quite clear. The man screws up, and the dog remains alive because of instincts. When my dad harvested his elk (woohoo!) I asked him if perhaps that cow elk’s “family” would miss her. He told me with confidence that no, nature is pretty indifferent to that sort of thing. The rest of the elk would move on without her and a new mature cow elk would take her place in keeping everyone together.
Now isn’t that a reality check? Nature is INDIFFERENT. None of those animals actually gives a care about us. They might care about each other, but that’s because as a group they are more likely to stay alive.
In Stephen Crane’s The Open Boat, nature is personified and glorified until the men realize it’s going to kill them. All of a sudden, nature isn’t such a beautiful and peaceful thing.
“If I am going to be drowned- if I am going to be drowned- if I am going to be drowned, why, in the name of the seven mad gods who rule the sea, was I allowed to come thus far and contemplate sand and trees?” (Because nature is indifferent!) …….
This man feels that nature wanting to kill him would be unnatural after all of the hard work he’s done in his life. It isn’t fair. He knows others have died the same way, but can’t help thinking it’s still unfair to HIM…
…”When it occurs to a man that nature does not regard him as important, and that she feels she would not maim the universe by disposing of him, he at first wishes to throw bricks at the temple, and he hates deeply the fact that there are no bricks and no temples. Any visible expression of nature would surely be pelleted with his jeers.”
Later, perhaps the best line of the entire story: “She did not seem cruel to him then, nor beneficent, nor treacherous, nor wise. But she was indifferent, flatly indifferent.”
It’s easy to lash out at something that “doesn’t care about us.” But isn’t it also a comfort to know that it isn’t all about us? That there’s a bigger picture of this Earth? That the world around us has many concerns and ways to survive? I think it’s humbling. I think it’s a reminder to work hard and stay as strong and fit as we possibly can. It’s a good incentive, don’t you think?
Before this hunting trip I tried getting into shape. I was doing it for my body (mostly just how it looked…) and so that I could keep up with my dad. My thoughts on physical health now? Stay in shape for that time when nature may get the better of us. When Greg and I were splitting our second protein bar out in the woods I kept thinking, “If I had to live on these…if I had to sleep out here…if I had to kill my own food for each and every meal…COULD I?” Would I survive? I went back and forth between “Yes, of course I could survive that. I’m tough” and “I would die right away.” (kind of like this…)
A good thought: even if nature is indifferent, there are people in my life who aren’t. Human love is unbeatable! My dad and my husband were there. They cared about whether the bear killed me or not. My family was praying for us while we were out in the wilderness. I have God, who cares about me more than any person, too. He created a nature that may be viewed as indifferent, but I care about nature even if it is indifferent to me.
Perhaps that’s why humans can’t simply live in peace. There will always be war (unfortunately) and destruction and people will always disagree. I love the idea that peace is possible. I am hopeful for it and I pray for it. But at the end of the day, I think it’s a very unrealistic thing to wish for. We are a part of nature, as much as living in our homes with our technology may feel like a separation from that. If we are a part of nature, it means it’s normal for us to have some tension and chaos and for moments to be anything but peaceful. If the world broke out into panic and all technology was gone, or food ran out, or some other disaster hit EVERYONE, I’m pretty sure we’d all be feeling a little bit more “survival of the fittest.” Even the most peaceful of person would want to survive, want their children to survive, and would go to almost any means in order to make that happen. This is what I truly believe, but I’d like to hear other thoughts.
Being that nature is so beautiful, I think that it would be a disservice to forget the other side… the side that isn’t so forgiving. That, in its own way, is beautiful too.