I never imagined I would write a blog post with a title that included the words "zombie apocalypse". I'm not really one for zombies, or vampires, or end-of-the-world galactic battles. I understand the place those stories have in our psyches, but something about the undead just kind of turns me off. But the other night I had the great good fortune to be sitting around the table with my family, telling stories and shooting the breeze over draining glasses of wine and crusts of bread, when my brother and sister-in-law started in about who they'd want around during the zombie apocalypse. Apparently it's a parlor game they play (does anyone have a parlor anymore?), identifying the skills of their friends and creating a "dream team" of ninjas and techs and hardy folk to band together in a post-Armageddon world. So while my nephews offered what they could bring to the table, statistic and strategic aptitude and toy dinosaurs, I chimed in and said, "I'll be there for mental and emotional health."
There was a pause, a friendly chuckle, and my sister-in-law (whom I love dearly) said, "No, we're talking about survival skills Katie -- basic life and death stuff."
"Great," I said. "I'll be there. You'll want me there."
The conversation went on, with more insinuations and reminders that we would be fighting off zombies and the team would not be able to support dead weight who couldn't hold their own. "Fine," I agreed. "I'll do what I have to do. All I'm saying is that when you start to go crazy from the stress, you'll want me there."
I could easily write a soapbox post, urging you to Call Your Elected Officials! and Save Big Bird! and Donate To My Film Fundraiser! because Art Matters, Dammit! But the thing is... I don't think I really have to prove that to you.
What did most of us New Yorkers do as we hunkered down to await Sandy? (Besides drink and poke fun at El Bloombito.) I'll put money on the fact that we turned on Netflix, busted out the DVDs, and sat back to be entertained, to experience a human story, to laugh or cry or do both at the same time. When the power goes out or we sit around the campfire, we tell stories and sing songs, play games and experience a connection to each other.
I don't mean to be glib and rosy. There has been devastating destruction in our region, and survival is not a romantic story. Losing power for any length of time, especially days (now weeks) on end, is no joke. There is much recovery work to be done, and many people's lives have been irrevocably altered by this storm.
But still we know, somewhere in the pit of our stomachs or the back of our minds (side note: I find it fascinating that these phrases are part of our general lexicon: that there are deep, buried places in the body wherein our core knowing hides and waits for us) -- we know that soul survival is just as essential as physical.
My boyfriend was off to sing a funeral at a local church a few months ago, an occasional gig for both of us. He was feeling guilty about taking money from people at a time like that, and I reminded him of the great service he was doing for the grieving family. "You are lifting them up," I told him. "They all want you to sing gloriously, whether they know it or not - they need to hitch their spirits to your voice and let them soar."
It's why the zombies don't have a chance: humans have souls, and soul will beat no soul every time. But I don't have to tell you that. You already know.