Art of the Living Dead
A book about creativity, survival, and mastery
Last year I wrote a book. This year I set it free. I am going to post a chapter a week on Medium. Here is the first installment…
Dedicated to all survivors within listening distance
Let’s face it, few of us love our jobs. The dice of life bounce us around and we land somewhere short of our dream job. Careers grind along until eventually we ask, “Is this really what I am meant to be doing?” Despite this disconnection from our job, many of us still take pride in our work. We still care deeply about what we are doing. When you care, your work is personal, everything you touch bears your signature. Artists cling to the belief that our work has purpose, but others let go, punch the clock, and resign to a life free from the burden of ambition.
The opposite of life isn’t death, it’s apathy. Caring is the curse carried by those of us who claim to be alive. If you are surrounded by apathetic zombies long enough eventually it will drain the life right out of you, too. This is when you question your life’s purpose. Have you been wasting your time? The days, weeks, and years have added up and what have you accomplished? Deep down you know you still have something to contribute, so you keep working.
The thing that gets me out of bed in the mornings is a belief that creativity allows us to transcend hopeless situations. From the bottom of a well, the blue point of light above is more than a reminder of your damp, dark hole, escape is the prize that keeps us clawing skywards. When things are bad, this blind hope is what gets me through. I am not alone. You are not alone.
Art of the Living Dead was inspired by a strange mixture of ambition, professional stagnation, and a desperate desire to understand the failures I was observing in myself and my surroundings. My existence had eroded to a post-nuclear zombie apocalypse where I fought desperately to maintain my humanity. So that’s what I wrote about. From my isolation I wrote a letter of hope and I am sending it out praying that a fellow survivor might hear my words and find the courage to keep fighting.
As the world degenerates arounds us, victory is far from certain. In the moments before armageddon the oncoming transformation is unknowable. Are we on the verge of upward ascent, or teetering on the edge of calamity? Some sneer at dreamers, denying the need for reform. Others ignore the warnings, certain that nothing will ever change. As we enter the unknown, the appropriate response is not apathy, cynicism, or denial. All we can do is humbly acknowledge that we have absolutely no idea what is possible. As you indulge my zombie metaphor in the following chapters, I thank you for your time, and I hope you take my encouragement to heart. You can save the world. Why? Because you care.