If I had only met my father just today, I don’t know what I would say to him. Would I shake his hand or give him an awkward hug? Casually greet him with uncertainty or shout with joy at how excited I was to finally see him? For one thing, I know his outlook on me would be totally different than what is has been. He wouldn’t know about my faults and would be less likely to judge me. I believe there would be more conversation and not so much of that ‘icy wall’ between us. We might be willing to share more of our well kept secrets than we normally would have if I had known him for my entire life since it would not be so embarrassing.
On the other hand, it might be harder to relate to him because we both have difficulty starting conversations and having anything interesting to talk about. Our relationship would be rather awkward at first but eventually I believe we could be great friends, just on a less intimate level. I know I would be calling him by his first name for a while because there wouldn’t be that commanding respect between us right away and I could know him on a more personal level. That would be quite appropriate for a relationship in the early stages of development; a newly seeded plant sprouting up from the ground for the first time; a pillow still fluffy and fresh; a brand new book just opened with pages that feel like air and ink as crisp as night.
My dad would likely want to do more fun things with me, more father-son activities such as going to sporting events, fishing, or even nights out on the town. He does have artificial hips and can’t do a whole lot of strenuous work but he could at least try to go more places with me and participate in certain activities, knowing that he is trying to be a good father. I believe there would be more of a will to get to know each other and not just forcing it. There wouldn’t be any grudges between us, other than the fact that I had not known him until now.
It would be shocking at first to know that we share some of the same traits both mentally and physically. Other than hating the fact that I have things in common with my dad that are not quite up to par with what other people believe are ‘normal’, I would embrace these things because a connection would be formed between us. There is a bit of love between us right now, but if I had only just met him today I believe that would be amplified. I would want to spend as much time as possible with my father to make up for all the lost time that we could have spent together. It would be more mutual and honest; we wouldn’t hold anything back; the relationship would not be stunted and crippled like it is now but would grow into a tall, healthy, and impressive looking redwood. That would mean more than anything to me.
Aristotle, one of the greatest thinkers of western philosophy, taught us that happiness is a virtue, not its reward. This means that happiness is a gift that is not to be taken for granted. It is the ultimate purpose of our existence. It does not come and vanish in a mere couple of hours. Happiness depends on ourselves. We choose to be happy. Aristotle gave a true definition of happiness:
…the function of man is to live a certain kind of life, and this activity implies a rational principle, and the function of a good man is the good and noble performance of these, and if any action is well performed it is performed in accord with the appropriate excellence: if this is the case, then happiness turns out to be an activity of the soul in accordance with virtue. (Nicomachean Ethics, 1098a13)
Am I a good judge of other people’s happiness? That depends. I don’t know if I’m truly happy myself. My self-absorption clouds my judgment, I can’t look past my inner demons to realize others are facing predicaments that question the nature of their existence. This is tough. I am more inclined in seeing the sadness in people. Since I am a loner and often have depressive states, seeing people on a level of my own makes me feel better because I know they have something in common with me: this insurmountable wall that I cannot seem to get over. But I feel safer on the other side anyway because I don’t have to face my struggles with human interaction and emotion. Stepping out into the light bothers me. I feel better being isolated and not having to win the acceptance of someone else because when I fail at that I often become even more depressed.
I close my eyes for a while, trying to think of a time when I knew someone was happy. For some reason, my late grandmother comes to mind. I am standing by her bedside, seeing her lying there, pale and cold as ever, holding on to her last few breaths of life. She has lost all focus of the world and her words and actions are not entirely hers, coming about from the Alzheimer’s that has progressed ruthlessly. I can tell she is happy and content inside, even if it isn’t readily apparent, because very soon she will be going to a better place, away from the agony and suffering that has been cast upon her. This is not like her. She has always been a strong woman, always alert and on her feet. I hate to see her struggle like this, acting like a totally different person and scaring me. I can tell she doesn’t want to go through with this sickness any longer, wants to rest in peace, be in a state of happiness. A deep depression washes over me. My mind is numb as ice. I can’t quite decipher any emotions for this experience. I guess I just realize dying is the natural part of life and learn to get over it. Grieving is painful. I don’t know how to deal with it. I’m trapped in my mind. Nothing can get out. It is a dark void. There is no where to go but straight. Behind me is just the shadows of despair. The road is foggy up ahead. I am so young, unable to take the burden of this loss.
Should it contain a certain shade of color or a well accepted feature?
Be a piece of music that flows like leaves in the breeze?
Be a magnificent looking house with smooth sloping lawns?
A night sky painted with the stuff of star dust or a crimson sunset rising over the city skyline?
All of these are nice examples but can be very shallow in the true definition of what beauty is. They only point at the surface, not what you really feel deep inside.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It’s what you make of something that tells it’s true meaning and purpose.
It can be something that is aesthetically pleasing and rings out a certain sound. It can shine brightly in the midst of turmoil surrounding it. It can be something subtle or loud and boisterous.
I believe no one can truly define what beauty is. It does not follow a strict set of rules. Beauty can be found in the murkiest, dullest points of life. A homeless man standing on a cold, dank street corner, the smoky mist from the ground rising around him; there is a certain beauty to that because if this man could be photographed a story would be told, a story of loneliness and desperate times. It would be very somber and soothing, allowing you to think to yourself and feel sympathetic for the poor soul.
We’ve all heard that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Do you agree? is all beauty contingent on a subjective point of view?
The old adage, “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover”, comes up when I try to answer this question. It tells you to not make first impressions right away after just looking at the surface. The most beautiful part is contained on the inside, where it really matters. This beauty is not artificial or put on to satisfy someone else; it is true to the subject’s nature, to how they really feel. Anyone that thinks beauty is defined as something that is satisfying to a majority is wrong. This is far from the truth. Anything that is given some thought and consideration can have a trace of beauty in it. Again, it’s how you perceive it, how it captures your mind’s desire. Not everyone can follow the same path. Some find beauty on the long, dark road leading anywhere and others find it on the brightly lit path to happiness. It’s basically how you are feeling inside that makes beauty what it is. It shouldn’t have to be an artificial, please everyone kind of thing. It should be organic in nature and blend in with the fabric of the landscape. It should tap into your most precious memories and bring out a certain set of emotions in yourself.
My family and I were in Lansing on the twelfth of February – my sister Emily’s 18th birthday – and heading over to the CSL Plasma center to donate for some money like we’ve been doing for over 2 years now, excluding her and my dad. Not the best way to get by but it helps out a lot since we are so cash-strapped and can’t even afford a new dryer. It was supposed to be a great day for my sister – I mean, this is her last day officially as a kid and will soon be able to do anything she ever dreamed of, except drink yet, of course, which isn’t a big priority for her anyway.
First, my dad pulled into the Speedway/Sunny Day gas station to, you know, fill er up. It’s usually a stop and go, normal everyday situation. But today I sensed something different. For one thing, Dad was slower than usual, and he is pretty slow anyways; he was in the store for quite a while. Finally, he came out of the store with a receipt, crinkled it up, and threw it in the trash. We were making jokes about him being slow and a putz and other jokes about Charles and Al, two lovable buffoons, who didn’t go to donate today. The commotion broke out as my dad, Bob, was pumping gas. I was in the middle seat, thinking away absent-minded, and heard some shouting behind me. Then I heard a gunshot but was oblivious to the moment, didn’t know exactly what was happening at first and didn’t react immediately. Then a grey SUV backed up into another behind a gas pump and smashed its front bumper up pretty good, pushing in the front end of the car like an accordion. The damaged car turned around and fled, the driver obviously pissed. We thought at first that a riot was going to break out and this was some sort of dispute. But then Emily and my uncle Jack, who saw the action from the backseat, believed it was an undercover cop after they saw a man in a brown coat running after the criminal’s car. The details were murky from my point of view but all the undercover cop did was shoot the guy’s tires; I thought someone got shot and was lying on the ground; It could have ended up much worse. The criminal fled in his car and jumped over a snow bank.
Later on, behind the snow bank, I saw a couple of men chasing the fugitive after he ditched the car which either crashed into something or was cornered by the police. The guy was obviously wanted and had been staked out perfectly at the gas station. As we were finally getting the hell out of there another grey SUV pulled into the gas station and seemed to drive over the debris left over from the collision as if the driver didn’t notice it was there. I thought “how stupid can this guy be?”
I guess it’s a good thing we weren’t in the middle of the commotion or dad wasn’t walking towards the store as that SUV backed up into the other one. We should have ducked our heads when that gun went off but I guess we’re not so used to situations like this. It was fairly controlled and the cop knew what he was doing and obviously had some backup to stop the criminal from getting away. Still, though, shooting a gun off in broad daylight in front of innocent bystanders is a bit risky. Jack had this crazy idea afterwards that it was a scene being filmed for a movie and the people at the gas station were extras. It sure seemed like it because I’ve probably been to gas stations a million times and nothing like this ever happened. It was like an action scene from an old Bruce Willis’ flick or an episode of COPS. Either way, it was surreal.
Dad was so slow getting out of there, just taking his merry time with pumping the gas; Mom and Jack were yelling for him to hurry up, and it is funny when my uncle Jack gets nervous because he sounds like a little schoolgirl with his voice getting high. A blue-shirted employee of the Sunny Day convenience store came out and looked around like “What the hell?”
In front of us was a brown car at the pump and an African-American man near it with a winter hat and a red plaid, Paul Bunyan-esque shirt on. He was just laughing like what just happened was no big deal. Yeah, I’m sure he’s seen his fair share of eruptions in the cruddy city of Holt-Lansing.
“Just another day in Lansing” I said.
Another thing like this happened on July 7, 2007. 7/7/7. Supposed to be one of the luckiest days ever but not for an unfortunate driver in Detroit. As we were heading out from Detroit at night from a 14-inning stint with the Red Sox, the Tigers winning by the way of a walk off double, we came upon an intersection on MLK Boulevard. We were about to cross it when a car came zooming by from the left and hit the side of a car coming from the road in front of us, smashing in it’s side door and spinning it around several times. The other car just kept on going through the intersection and never looked back, the driver not stopping and facing up to their reckless, life threatening mistake. This night was another lucky break for us, being in the right place at the right time. Dad called in the accident like a noble Samaritan would.
Afterward, back in 2014, we donated and got our money and left the strange city of Holt-Lansing where there are shoot and runs, people just nonchalantly walking out into the street full of cars, and poor beggars on every corner. As day turned to night, we arrived at Ruby Tuesdays in Okemos to eat dinner. A fine restaurant with a nice salad bar that really upped the meal I got (a slice of hickory bourbon chicken with a side of onion rings). We had a young waitress that looked like in she was in her 20s, blonde and kind of ditzy like a pre-Penny at the Cheesecake Factory. I thought she was kind of cute and I smiled at her and tried to get her attention and it worked quite a bit. Even walked by the section where she and the servers were and then walked right around the middle bar and stool section. So silly of me, I thought afterward.
It is the year 2109, the world has sunk into disarray and destruction. The zombie apocalypse has taken over, destroying nearly a third of the Earth’s population. Left behind are soulless, flesh-eating creatures that mindlessly roam the streets in search of brains, human kinds being the specialty. The few that were lucky to survive the outbreak have been forced to board up their houses, carry weapons, and stockpile as much food as possible. Learning how to defend oneself against a zombie attack is the key to surviving in this wretched world. Hope for a cure is small, super expensive, and highly unlikely.
Does this sound familiar to you? It’s the typical way in which the zombie apocalypse is pictured. Zombies are usually thought of as vile, disgusting things that never sleep, move with a shuffling style unless agitated and can only speak with moans and groans. These zombies are ruthless and anyone that crosses their paths unarmed is in for a real fight.
Of course, everyone knows zombies are not real and the chances of a huge zombie outbreak happening are minimal. First of all, and I got this from a documentary, a major zombie outbreak like the ones described in many television shows and movies would require such a lethal amount of viral infection, the likes that have never been seen anywhere on Earth. The documentary said the only virus that could possibly spread and infect billions in a small amount of time is a highly modified rabies virus, and even then it would still be very unlikely since a normal virus takes a few hours to days to incubate. A normal rabies virus takes a few hours to run its course on one human body, most of the time ending in death, and spreading to not just one but billions of people quickly to create a major zombie population would be highly unlikely, but not impossible if the rabies virus existed in many countries at once. The zombie population would have to survive long enough for humans to really feel like there was a challenge on their hands, not one that can be wiped out so easily. Also, to create a zombie some portion of the brain has to be retriggered from the disease, leading to a dead body that is basically a walking shell of its former self running on minimal brain power. It would sort of be like stripping a computer of all the main programs and files that make it work and leaving only the most basic things like a calculator and a place to write in codes. Not much to live on, eh?
So, what if zombies were possible? Would they be just like the ones portrayed in pop culture or would they be, shall I say it, more human-like ? What if they weren’t the kind that feasted on humans, but were just misunderstood creatures? Zombies are basically dead bodies reanimated with only the most basic brain functions still available
(walk, eat, make incomprehensible sounds). So what if the zombies could somehow learn things and return to human form, living normal lives again, like being resurrected?
The movie Warm Bodies showed the journey of a zombie that was half-human and, unlike his dead counterparts, found love on the street, and came “back to life” with this person. Warm Bodies tells the story of how the once flesh-hungry zombies turned into functioning people again with emotional connections to one another. It was one of the first “zombie romances” I had ever seen, completely flipping the zombie genre on its head and spinning it around a few times, crashing it into a wall. Of course, zombies are sub-dead human beings, so how can they speak English and have emotions and attractions when those traits are supposed to have been long gone? They can’t just come back just because a zombie looks at himself in the mirror or sees two people holding hands. It’s a comedy/drama, I know, but some things were so farfetched. Zombies don’t have full control over their muscles so how could R, the lead character, move the needle for the record player, open the door to the plane, or even drive a car? Again, it’s a comedy and shouldn’t be taken seriously. It’s based on a book and I imagine the writer was simply trying to put zombies into a different light because, believe it or not, they were once humans like you and me. Did I mention the film was hilarious by the way?
Anyways, if people really could come back to life as zombies, maybe they could live among us, just with different needs and styles of living. Maybe the virus that makes them zombies wouldn’t make them so much like monsters but more like a person that came back from the dead to start a new life. If we could somehow speak to these zombies and make them understand, maybe they could be taught how to speak again and learn things. They could eat the same things as us, and do the same fun activities,developing that human part of their brain that had been lost. Or maybe…the zombie could be like a pet dog or cat, and roam around the house keeping us company, doing things a regular pet would do. We could even take the zombie out for a walk once in a while. I’m just speculating, ha ha.
If I was a zombie I would feel, if possible, very angry at the way my kind have been treated even if we have to be shot down because we get out of hand. I would be thinking, “Damn, these humans think they so big and bad and they treat us like garbage, they deserve our revolt against them”. I would tell all the other zombies to stand up for themselves and at least prepare a little better against human attacks (wear some body armor or head masks or find a way to carry and use firearms).
If zombies had their own country, they would want equal rights just like everyone else. They would like to hoist their own national flag to praise and honor. They would like to watch their own TV shows and listen to their own zombie music (if groans and moans could be made into a tune). Instead of Hollywood, there would be Zombiewood where famous zombie movie stars and the like hang out at exclusive clubs and parties. Instead of zombies being the villains in every film about them, in Zomb they would be the things everyone is rooting for! The humans would be the enemies and what a great way to turn the tables. You know the video game Plants vs. Zombies? Well, in this case, it would Zombies vs. Plants since the zombies would be the heroes being controlled by the player. Different customizations and items could be unlocked to build an army of anti-plant fighting creatures. Other video games could follow this same path, where the villains are now the heroes and vice versa.
What about zombie politics? Every four years or so there would be an election for the next zombie President or whatever the leader would be called. Or maybe there wouldn’t a true leader and it would be a free for all, do whatever you want country.
Imagine zombies having their own sports teams to root and play for. Like the Corpsetown Zombies or Hellside Undead. They could participate in the Olympics too and would probably win a lot because all the real human competitors would get scared and run away – except the ones with shotguns!
If zombies had their own dance it might be called the Creepy Shuffle or Graveyard Step. Hey, there’s a new kind of music in town, it’s called Dead Rock! I would so be a fan of the sensational Deadman Balmer or the hit band Zombies at War. The living dead would have their own Zombipolooza where all the top undead acts come together to groan and moan in celebration of a great day of music.
And I almost forgot the fashion industry, if zombies ever had any interest in that sort of thing. Just imagine a zombie shuffling into a store and grunting at the owner that he wants to buy that new tattered, blood stained shirt on sale. Who cares about money in Zomb? If the zombie doesn’t get what it wants it will just eat the thing standing in its way!
I know, this is all silly talk and not realistic but it’s still fun to think that zombies could have their own culture and society if they were ever smart enough to have one. Zombies should have a chance to be the good guys, er…once in a while at least.
So sign the petition today to give zombies equal rights! It will benefit the world in great ways and help cut down that dividing wall between the living, the living dead, the living masquerading as dead, the dead, the not-so-dead, the some-what dead, the deader-than-dead, and the deader-than-door nails kind of dead.
If you were the new leader of your country and had the chance to transform something that’s currently an annoyance (or worse) into a very fun activity, what would it be? How would you go about the change, and why would you choose that particular thing?