The Start of a Zombie Apocalypse — Part 3 (Company)

To start at the beginning, please refer to The Start of a Zombie Apocalypse.

Jacob tied the ends of the bedsheets together into a makeshift rucksack for carrying whatever supplies he might be able to scrounge, and he yawned, rubbing tired eyes.  Molly’s words had haunted him throughout the night.  I wish you could hold me now and tell me everything is going to be okay.  He gathered the folded rucksack and looked through the windows.  The streets were doused in morning light, hopeful perhaps, were it not for the flesh-eaters that still crowded the reddened concrete.  Everything wasn’t going to be okay.

He paced back and forth, repeatedly emptying and reloading the bullet cartridge from his gun’s stock and checking his pocket for the room keycard, all to delay his departure.  The risks were too grave.  How would he succeed where so many had failed?  Breathing hard, Jacob eyed the kitchen sink and reminded himself that death was a guarantee if he stayed.  Only if he left was there a chance of survival, however small.  He whispered a prayer to a God he didn’t believe in.  Fuck the truth.  He needed allies more than ever, and maybe somewhere, somehow, someone was listening. Continue reading

Embrace Failure.

You took a chance.  You ignored everyone who told you not to.  You tightened your belt, clenched your fists, and believed with all your heart that you were going to make your dreams a reality.  Each day demanded your blood, sweat, and tears.

And then, finally, after having invested so much into your dream, you encounter your first major failure.  Your book is fundamentally flawed, the writing barely a step above novice.  Your business model is unsustainable.  You didn’t pass the exam.

The thought of your failure is overwhelming.  Your breathing is constricted, your chest throbs with dull pain, your knees wobble.  You remember all the people who you told of your inevitable success.  You’re going to collapse.  What will they think?  Your failure is a big, lighted sign announcing to the world that they were right all along not to believe in you.  You think about how you aren’t special.  You think about how you should’ve fallen in line with the rest of them, just as you were meant to.  

Your legs buckle and you hit the floor.  The pain distracts you for a moment, and for that you are thankful, but the emotions catch up quickly.  Your face rests in a puddle of fresh tears.  You tried, and you failed.  It’s over.  It’s all over.

I’m here to tell you it’s not over.  

Get up from the floor and stand up straight.  Wipe your face dry with your sleeve.  Breathe in as deep as you can.  Cold air rushes into your lungs like an avalanche.  

Embrace your failure.  Learn to respect failure.  Your failure is a badge of honor — wear it with pride.  You attempted something great.

You seem calmer now.  Good.  Think about your project.  What did you do wrong?  How can you improve?  What have you learned?  If the answers don’t come easy, keep thinking — they will come.  Study.  Research.  Question.  

Why?  

You still want this.

Spent too much time already, too much energy already.

Don’t let laziness rule your future.  Few succeed overnight.  Remember what motivated you in the first place.  Remember the life that awaits you if you stop now.  Don’t let yourself post-rationalize.  Visualize everything.  Don’t hold back.  You still want this dream, dammit.

Can’t handle another failure.

Every failure makes you better if you make an effort to learn from your mistakes.  Failures are not dead ends.  Failures are steps forward.  With each failure, you inch closer and closer to your goal.  If you have not succeeded, then you are moving closer.  Always remember that.

It’s not over until you decide that it is.  

The Start of a Zombie Apocalypse – Part 2

Sorry for the delayed update!  Here’s a bit more from my Zombie novel.  If you haven’t read the first part, please refer to The Start of a Zombie Apocalypse.

Jacob paced back and forth, raking nervous fingers through his hair.  He had just dialed 911 from the landline, but all he got was static.  He tried other numbers – the police department, the fire department, the operator, a pizza place – and still, nothing.  Not a single outbound call was going through.

He found himself stealing frequent glances at the elevator.  The flesh-eater from the lobby would wake up soon, and he’d need to be ready if she found him again.  It was certainly plausible, given that her staff keycard granted her access to his floor.  Jacob cracked his knuckles with fresh conviction and pushed the sofa against the elevator doors to set up a blockade.  His defense would have to hold until the authorities arrived.  He collected chairs from each room, stacked them against one other atop the sofa, and taking another, brought it to the stairwell door and jammed it under the handle.  Satisfied with his improvisation, he made his way to the bathroom.

Jacob picked his gun off the floor and wiped it dry.  The weight of the weapon always surprised him, made him feel powerful, deliberate, somehow more in control, and moving back to the main room, he propped the gun at shoulder level and took practice aim between the two blockaded entrances.  He thought back to the nightmarish descent, the growls and whispers and snarls, and hoped that his mind had simply contrived a lie to distract him from his depression.  Still, it had all seemed so real.  After some time, he lowered the gun and began to search for his cell phone, looking under pillows and cabinets and in drawers, but to no avail, having hidden it in some forgettable nook when he first arrived.  Better hidden so that he wouldn’t give in to weakness and call Molly, he remembered.  He managed a laugh.  It was just as she had predicted: in the end, his pride would prove his downfall. Continue reading

Needs vs. Wants: Feeding your Dream

It’s not an uncommon sight — a dreamer, slouched over his desk, trying desperately not to succumb to inertia — if only he had the willpower to focus, if only he had the persistence to continue in the wake of defeat, if only.

Distraction.  Fear.  Laziness.  The sum of these forces pervades our lives and prevents so many of us from accomplishing that which we truly desire.  This seems counter-intuitive.  If this dream is what our heart demands, then we should not feel lazy in pursuing it, right?

Wrong.

The reason why we so often find ourselves stuck in patterns of behavior that contribute to our eventual failure is because we make the mistake of merely wanting our dreams as opposed to needing them.

Society teaches us to contextualize our dreams as aspirations, as wants, things of passing fancy that, if left in poor condition, we will eventually abandon.  But desire is a spectrum.  At one end is want, and at the other is need.  Thus, there is something transformative in wanting enough that you generate a need.

So make your dream a necessity.  Want your dream so thoroughly that you feel you need it to survive, each step along the path a treasured breath saving you from drowning, each failure feeding your continued appetite.

We allow ourselves to sabotage our own success because we give ourselves conscious opportunities to do so.  Remember, want is conscious, need is unconscious.  If you have to think about what you’re going to do, chances are you’ll think up something to distract yourself with, too.  

When you’re hungry, you eat.  You don’t avoid eating by virtue of laziness.  You don’t get distracted from hunger.  You get distracted by hunger.  Aim to internalize your dreams in much the same way.  Know that you cannot survive without your dream.  Let the pangs of your unfulfilled dream frustrate you until you are forced to satisfy it.  Feed it, feed it, feed it.

The Start of a Zombie Apocalypse

Writing a zombie apocalypse novel to see where it takes me.  Having a lot of fun with it so far.  Sharing it for any curious readers out there.

Jacob slumped back in the Italian-marbled bathtub of his hotel suite and wept.  Seven days of self-imposed isolation.  Seven days with shades drawn, soundproofed windows, and with the floor all to himself.  Seven days since he left Molly to clear her stuff out of the apartment.  He picked up his gun and tracked the silver glean along its barrel.  Everything had gone to shit – the divorce had been finalized, he was still working the same banking career that he swore he would quit ten years ago – everything, but it was time to take control.  He cocked the gun, pressed the end of the barrel flat against his skull and shut his eyes, ready to pull the trigger.

Instead, he laughed.

He imagined Molly meeting up with some tall, handsome divorcee, one willing and able to have her biological children.  She would smile, he would smile, and she would talk about how terrible her ex-husband had been, he would pretend to care, and they would marry as soon as was socially acceptable.  Then she would finally get what she wanted.  Nine months later she’d be popping out a little screaming bastard for the whole world to cherish. Continue reading

Video

Steve Jobs on Living Before You Die

Wanted to post this since I watch it from time to time for inspiration and motivation. His ideas match my own personal philosophy to a great extent. For anyone paying attention, I’ll be posting something original in the next day or two. Sorry for the delays – things are getting really busy since my return to Philadelphia.

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A beautiful quote from Miguel de Cervantes.

Busy evening, but I wanted to share this quote from the author of Don Quixote.

“I have lived nearly fifty years, and I have seen life as it is.

Pain, misery, hunger….cruelty beyond belief.
I have heard the singing from taverns
and the moan from bundles of filth on the streets.
I have been a soldier and have seen my comrades fall in battle…
Or die more slowly under the lash in Africa.
I have held them in my arms in the final moment.
These were the men, who saw life as it is,
Yet they died despairing.
No glory, no gallant last words… only their eyes filled with confusion,
Whimpering the question,  

‘Why?’

I do not think they asked why they were dying, but why they had lived.

When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies?
Perhaps to be too practical is madness.
To surrender dreams – this may be madness.
To seek treasure where there is only trash.
Too much sanity may be madness – and maddest of all:
To see life as it is, and not as it should be.”

To me, this sort of inspiration is particularly poignant because it is not blind to the realities of our existence. It runs in stark contrast to the popular quote, “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.” Here, however, Miguel de Cervantes is inspired to think differently and to dream big after having been exposed to the morbid realities of war.

In other words, life can be depressing as hell. It is of no benefit to pretend that the universe will reward us, always. We should accept that life has the potential to be extraordinarily shitty, and we should use this dissatisfaction to shape a new, less risk-averse perspective. It is then that we will thrive.

Life hurts sometimes. It hurts a lot of the time. But you must keep dreaming.

Keep dreaming.