I’ve often watched movies or read books of an apocalyptic nature and thought the people in them were rather dumb. Mostly, I think this because they are unable to let go of a loved one who has died or turned into a zombie, or they’re forced to leave their home in search of a safer place. To me it’s pretty cut and dry what needs to be done, and the characters just aren’t doing it. Yesterday, I think I finally figured out what their problem was… They’re creatures of habit like we all are.
Whether we realize it or not, we all have our little routines and daily lives that make us feel comfortable and safe. For a lot of us, if something happens to throw our plans out of whack, we get very upset – angry even. I know I’m one of those people because I like to keep certain things in my schedule organized so things go smoothly. I’m not saying I can’t handle things if plans change, because I can and have many times, but a schedule of sorts helps overall.
The safety and sanity (mental peace) thing doesn’t only come from routines though. It can also come from familiar places, smells, people…just feeling like you’re in the ‘normal’ place for you in life. Each person’s sensory delight is different, and we build on that to make our world. When something or someone that has always been close to us is removed, our minds panic. I think this is why we grieve so strongly for people we love who have been taken from us. Instantly, we lose one of the main structures in our tower of life and we have to readjust everything so it works for us again.
Having been married for 11 years now, I know how one person can mean so much to you. You know their sounds, their smells, their thoughts, and the comfort of having them close. One touch can mean so much when you’re close to someone. If all that is taken away, we freak out inside.
Where we live – our homes – is another major part of who we are and our sanity. We make our homes our place of sanctuary against a world we don’t like or understand. Or maybe we do like and understand it, but have to get away from everything occasionally. If most people would have to leave that safety, I believe it would break them mentally. They aren’t prepared to go out into the unknown and start again with God knows what! I believe this is also what holds people in unhappy marriages or relationships – even though they suck, there’s that security of known verses the unknown. Many people aren’t capable of making the changes that will improve or save their lives. The fact is, most people lack the skills to even know where and/or how to begin to do things they’ve never done before; they don’t have the ability to learn a new pattern for their lives.
With all that being said… I can see why people – usually characters in stories – have some of the issues they have with leaving behind what they know and letting go of those they love. These traits make them more human. The problem for me though, is that I’m a practically minded person and often suppress my emotions to do what my brain tells me is the logical course of action. Of course, this is an ability I’ve built over the years and not everyone has it. I’m more of the ‘do what needs to be done no matter how you feel about it‘ type, but as you can tell from my ramblings above, I can see how people would act otherwise.
All the metaphors in apocalyptic fiction teach us valuable lessons. Because, realistically (cutting out all the emotional turmoil stuff), if humanity is to survive anything of an apocalyptic nature, or just the hardships of a regular life and relationships, people are going to have to learn to adapt to new situations. They’re going to have to step, or even leap, out of their safe, comfortable places to start training themselves for the hardships life can throw at them. Then maybe we’ll grow as people and not be stuck in the same-old-same-old of the comfort zones of life, because they can be very deadly when you need to move on for your own safety.
©Rebecca Besser, 2012. All rights reserved.