Life Lessons from a Zombie, Part 9: Spoons, Shakespeare and Mary Poppins
Welcome to Mental Space Monday! Where we journey inside the rabbit hole of collective consciousness and submit to the whims of curiosity.
Welcome back intrepid after-death explorers! We are all the way to part 9 of the Zombie Diaries series! – For all you new-comers, we are learning the secrets of life from those of us who have seen the darkness on the edges of life and come back to tell about it. As our tour guide, we are referencing TJ Dawe's 10 traits exhibited by people who have had near death experiences. Keep in mind there is more than one type of zombie - and we don't discriminate here. There are the usual zombies - you know, moaning, rotting flesh, etc. but also emotional and psychological zombies. This includes those of us who feel like we have died; divorce, loss of a loved one, loss of a job, depression; anything that is so mind-altering that we re-examine all assumptions and beliefs we previously carried around with us through life. This week’s un-dead characteristic:
Zombie Trait #9: The desire to connect with others and give back.
There are 2 parts here: the connecting and the sharing.
Identifying the need to connect is easy. We all feel alone and scared and vulnerable but we all feel an innate pull to feel like part of a group. It is never easy to give ourselves permission to show that vulnerability, to show ourselves fully to others. But as the queen of connection, Brene Brown says, "We are hard-wired for connection." "Most people think vulnerability is weakness, but it is really the cornerstone of confidence." There is a humanness that exists below the veneer of the masks that we try to put on everyday - yes, even in us zombies or possibly especially in us zombies. This humanness contains the magic that really allows those connection juices to start a-flowin'.
The second piece of zombie trait 9 is sharing. There's no denying that when we stare the end of life in the face (even emotionally) we come out of that feeling lucky (to put it mildly). And I don't just mean front row parking spot when you're running late lucky. I mean like each breath is not simply an inhalation but a valuable, living inspiration and I am so fortunate to be able to have another, and another, and another. When I think of how lucky I am to get another chance, another day, another sip of that smoky, lovely life force (or maybe in tougher times even a little smoky, lovely Laphroaig) I am speechless. And that kind of pure appreciation for the essence of life that we zombies have gained makes us immediately want to share it with others.
This kind of sharing is not the 3 chocolate chip cookies and 5 friends kind sharing where you stare forlornly at the last half as you pass it off to someone, your mouth watering, your brain telling you to be nice because there are only so many cookies....
This sharing is like laughter. The more you pass along to others, the more you have to give. It is the fountain of youth, the life-spring, the magic that is humanity and we, as essentially participating humans, can't help but want to see that magic passed along once we have a more full view of its value.
I think we often get caught in our own mental webs. Tolle calls it the ego - it is this basic, instinctual tendency to grab the thing we are fascinated by and hold it to our chest so tightly that we can no longer even see it. We know we wanted it but can't remember why - we are too close to it and we don't want to let go.
BUT, if we can be man enough, woman enough, essentially human enough to hand the object of our delight along to another we now have the opportunity to see it from a clearer perspective in all its glory. We more truly value it and notice again the little things we forgot when it was clutched so tightly to our selves. AND here's the secret. All the great stuff? That's the stuff that compounded, not depleted by sharing. AND even better, all the stupid stuff fades away when you share it - when you air it out: shame, anger, disappointment; these all live in the shadows and dissipate when you let them out in full sun. What better way to know which baggage is legit and which is worth carrying? Shed some genuine sunlight on those bottled up emotions and the true, valid, healthy parts will continue to grow while the nasty stuff withers away.
SO, own it, fellow zombies. Own your own good fortune in committing to air it out and give it away. You will find quickly which emotions are worth keeping and which friends are worth sharing with. And you already know that you have it in you to give it up - it came with your undead welcome packet - just embrace it.
In closing, I want to share a fable that I heard when I was young. (Apparently, according to the Google and all-knowing Wikipedia, it is called the allegory of the long spoons - please excuse my artistic liberties, this is how I remember it.)
A woman arrives at the gates of the afterlife. She is led into a long, lushly-carpeted hallway with ornate doors at either end. She is intrigued and instructed that one door leads to heaven and the other to hell; she will be allowed to see each. As any smart woman does, she takes the bad news first and asks to see hell.
As the heavily carved wooden door swings open, she can hear the moans and screams before she can even see what is hidden beyond. As the hinge swings wider, it reveals a massive dining table piled high with food surrounded by people with long, twisted spoons fixed to their hands. The handles of the spoons are so long that they cannot bring food to their lips and as a result, every single person is wasting away surrounded by food with no way to consume it.
The door slowly begins to swing closed. The woman is horrified. An entire eternity with delicious food right in front of you and no way to eat it? She couldn't fathom the pain.
She walks slowly down the long hall. How different would the world be behind the heaven door? What treasures would be provided to the fortunate that had not been offered to those she had just seen?
This door looked identical; the same heavy carving, the same weighty, stained wood. As this door swung open she was first greeted by sounds of laughter and conversation. As the scene unfolded, she saw the exact same table. With the exact same food and the exact same spoons. In this room, the people surrounding the table were scooping heaping spoonfuls of the feast and feeding them to those around them. All ate as they needed and all were fulfilled and had an eternity to spend in the company of others who were ready to offer help (and more laughter).
The door swung closed before her leaving her in the hall once again. Her mind reeled. There was no difference between hell and heaven. None. The sole change between suffering and bliss was in how the inhabitants decided to "handle" their situation. (Come on, that was a great pun!)
As the woman was silently escorted back to life, she realized that it was the same way. Now that she had seen the other side of life - she was her own kind of zombie. She knew the magic of life and afterlife lay in what she brought to the table. She knew too that all she could ever need was available to her, if she could only find a way to share what she had to offer.
I feel it is appropriate to close with quote from Shakespeare and Mary Poppins:
"There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so." -Shakespeare
"A spoonful of mental sugar helps eternity go down." -Mary Poppins (sort of)
Commune, my zombie friends. Join together, love the feast and share the spoils. Everyday will feel like heaven.
Embrace the delusion; enjoy the results. Have a wonderful day my lovelies.
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