So. I said I’d check up on you and I meant it. The month of January has come and gone. Thirty-one days of your time left on Earth wasted and irretrievable. And the end of February isn’t too far away either–I’ve been admittedly lax in my duties. In any case, it’s a lot of time…jusr hopefully not a lot of wasted time. So, what did you do with that time while you had it? What have you done to prepare for the coming apocalypse? Have you been practicing with zombie dummies? Learning to use that beat up katana reproduction you bought for ten cents at your neighbor’s garage sale? Stowing away lots of bottled water, flashlights, and MRE’s? (Don’t forget the extra batteries retard!!) I doubt you’ve managed to accomplish any of this yet…you’re probably too lazy to have even started.
I get it. I’m a procrastinator too. But please tell me that you are at least working on improving your mile time?! Those suckers have evolved in recent years. They don’t just amble along anymore like your boozer Uncle Ed, stumbling over their own puddles of drool while you have time to skip away just in time. No. Those suckers are fast. (And no, I’m not going to argue with you about whether or not they count as real zombies anymore. I know zombies were a lot more terrifying before they could run–take it up with Hollywood.) The point is that you really don’t want them to be catching you and munching on your brain next! That would totally suck. The constant itch of gray matter oozing out of your fractured skull and congealing on your scalp would be way worse than that time you had that rash there. (Hey, we did warn you not to see her…) Plus, imagine all of the clotted blood dripping into your eyes. Way nasty way to go blind! Trust me, it’d be infinitely more appealing to have them just barely miss you–you know, that whole “I almost died, but didn’t” brand of exhilaration. So yeah, you better be plugging away at that mile time. Every second counts. Heck, every tenth of a second counts when we’re talking about being eaten alive people!! (Are you even listening to me? Why are you still reading this? Go outside and run a couple laps around your neighborhood. The computer will still be there when you get back. Besides, you have to get used to living without electricity too–zombies won’t be smart enough to run the power plants post-apocalypse! Idiots…)
Admittedly, I’m probably not really one to talk. After all, even zombies can use their limited intelligence to understand that fat people are juicier and more tender. I did join a gym though–The Tupelo Wellness Center. It’s pretty awesome–for a place designed to bring out your inner masochist anyway. I’ve even been using the Machine of Death, aka the elliptical. I despise it. It’s horrible. Go use it too! Right away. Yes, I do in fact know that makes no sense whatsoever. Just listen to me already! It’ll be beyond sucky. But it will also help improve your endurance and your cardiac health. When the zombies come, you don’t want to be the one huffing and puffing wishing you had forced yourself to go five minutes a day on the elliptical so that you could beat out at least one person on the race away from death! If I can do it, so can you! Go sign up at that cheap gym down the corner…no excuses!!
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s move on to the more important challenge for our last year on Earth. How did you make your life count? Jump out of any planes? Climb any mountains? Or have you even taken the time to sit and watch the clouds float by? I know it sounds complicated–I had that problem too. I went through all of January moping and obsessing about what I could possibly do that would be new and exciting. And I never could come up with anything. Pathetic. Granted, I psyched myself into thinking that I had “tried something new” by eating Fried Green Tomatoes for the first time. They were seriously awesome. Like one-of-the-greatest-foods-ever-awesome. But. Still. Tomatoes? Really?!
It doesn’t count–not really. I mean, it totally could. If you tried some new, exciting food and it made you deliriously happy, then yeah. That would count. However, I was only using it as an excuse–a way to get out of finding anything truly meaningful to do with my life. So it really, really didn’t count. I spent each day afterwards sulking about how much it didn’t count–to the extent that I probably missed the opportunity to do all kinds of meaningful and insightful things. (It’s kind of weird how we do that–sulk and miss out on all of the opportunities we think we never get…)
Anyway, I was resigned to not accomplish anything in January–and I almost didn’t. Then we decided to go out to Tishimingo State Park the last weekend of January. I went along even though I fully expected it to be an absolutely miserable trip complete with muddy trails and the sort of bitter cold humidity that doesn’t exist outside of the South.
Then it wasn’t any of those things. It was incredible. There wasn’t anything overly special about it mind you. It’s not Yosemite. It’s not the Redwoods. This isn’t California…
It was still really, really pleasant. I haven’t gone hiking in over a year and I had forgotten how it makes you feel. There’s just something about being out in the woods that lets you think about things and comprehend your life in a way that you never could in any other situation. It lets you do all of those sappy little things–you know, like getting in touch with Mother Nature, God, and yourself. No matter how often you walk through the same woods there is always something new to discover about those three “people” that account for the three most important relationships we are supposed to form in our lives.
Anyway, this is what I learned…
1) Beauty really is all around us if you take the time to look. Yeah, that’s totally clichéd, but it also happens to be true so suck it. Take these thorns for instance. I absolutely despised them. They were seriously all kinds of evil and cut gouges into all of us. Plus, they ripped my favorite thermal. But damn if they aren’t pretty! There is just something very elegant about them. I think it might be because they can cause so much damage to us while living peacefully with the rest of the plants in the woods. It’s almost like Mother Nature’s way of telling us to keep out. It’s like the woods are self-aware and know exactly how much damage we can–and usually do–inflict upon them. In return, they’re bound and determined to strike back. Except that Mother Nature makes it look a whole lot more pleasant. And we still like to think that we’re the more evolved species! Does our own vanity know no bounds? Fascinating…
And, speaking of boundaries…
2) No matter what barriers we encounter, there is always a way across. Again, clichéd. Again, the truth. To cross a river, you may have to pick your away over slippery, loose rocks. To follow a path, you might have to climb over fallen trees and boulders. Life has impediments. But there are always ways to move forward if you are willing to make the effort to search for them. At work, we strive to operate by the TB Way. One of the key principles is a dedication to always “meet challenges with courage and creativity to realize our dreams.” There is always a way. Nothing is ever impossible.
Granted, that doesn’t mean that you’ll necessarily like the only path across that river…
3) Sometimes, in order to get across, you have to fall in first. I know, I know, this too is a cliché. Are you sensing a pattern here yet? Anyway, God gives us opportunities and chances to make things better. But that doesn’t mean that He will always make them easy. In fact, it will almost always be the opposite. To cross that river, you might have to get wet. That’s all part of the learning process though, right? We face challenges because that’s the only way to better ourselves. They give us insight into ourselves that we definitely couldn’t get otherwise. You have to know yourself at your worst in order to ever truly understand what makes you you when you’re at your best. It’s that whole yin-yang thing. Besides, most of the time those little slips and falls aren’t even a very big deal. They always seem awful when they happen. However, once you’ve made it across, your perception changes completely. It doesn’t seem like a big deal at all anymore. Wet jeans are definitely sucky, but they dry out pretty quickly in the sunshine.
4) Clichés shouldn’t be considered clichés. It’s funny how we like to make fun of things that are simple just because they’re simple. It makes it pretty darn obvious that we are completely missing the point.
Douglas Adams said it best:
Things are supposed to be simple. We obsessively and needlessly complicate our lives. And to what end? It doesn’t make our lives any better. In fact, it makes those wet jeans almost impossible to shimmy out of. It’d be so much nicer to live like the trees where our greatest concern would be how best to twist our branches into reaching that perfect patch of sunlight…
The Butcher of the Bard