So, we all know that season 6 episode 4 (“Here’s not Here”) of the phenomenal TV series “The Walking Dead” has created several reactions from people, one of which is, “Okay, that was a good episode but… what happened to Glenn!?!” (lol)
“We are the Walking Dead.” This is one of the most significant lines that I have remembered that was uttered by Rick Grimes. Much more than the superficial meaning of being the “Walking Dead” in their time, it could explain what more is “dead” within them.
The episode focused mainly about how Morgan’s life turned from being a full-blown psychopath to a person full of humanistic-like principles. This episode has opened my mind from my one-sided thinking of the existential concept applied in psychology of “Nothingness”
The existential philosophy of nothingness by Martin Heidegger seems complex but could be summed up to this, “it is something that appears in the presence of things—in the presence of the world that has become thoroughly alien and indifferent.”
On the other hand, existential psychology has derived more basic definitions on nothingness as the point of experiencing inauthentic living that kills your individuality by becoming alienated by the dictates of the society. Death is not the only avenue of nothingness, but it could also refer to the death that we experience inside of us causing us to live like a “walking dead”. Let’s take Morgan’s psychological disturbances as an example to nothingness.
There are several points where Morgan have translated all his relevant experiences to neurotic anxiety. Firstly, he lives in a world were both flesh eating zombies and living beings alike becomes a threat to his ideal world where he could have lived with his family. Secondly, he lost his family members in the most tragic way you could have imagined in a seemingly normal world. And lastly, the world itself becomes a threat to his survival where living becomes pointless. And so, with all these chains of traumatic experiences it led him to have a crooked thinking about the world, annihilating both the “dead”(zombies) and the living that crosses his path liberating them from the agonizing world where even surviving becomes pointless because everybody “turns” anyway. Well, it may sound reasonsable but his mind together with his experiences has had a short circuit that flamed irrational thoughts. This is exactly what psychological “nothingness” manifests itself in an individual. He turns to a “Non-Being” at this point of his life. A walking dead, so as to speak.
As I continue to watch the episode, I was quite surprised to see the symbol illustrated in the book that was handed to Morgan by Eastman, a retired Forensic Psychiatrist. It was the symbol of “Nothingness” which is a perfect circle. The book has a title “The Art of Peace.” Then, I started to ask myself, “What does the concept nothingness has to do with peace?” And so, I searched and started to read beautiful words about nothingness that poured cold water into my soul that birthed a new perspective in me. Here’s an excerpt:
“If you throw a rock
at something solid,
that solid thing will be damaged,
it will be hurt.
But if you throw a rock at air,
the air is not damaged nor hurt.
The air is unchanging.
if you realize your true nature
that nothingness is unchanging.
The peace that is that nothingness is unchanging.
Nothing can hurt it,
nothing can damage it.
It is beyond all form…”
Being in the state of nothingness means to accept what life brings you, to let go of every neurotic control that strangles the life out of us and to recognize that we are vulnerable to every pain and misery. We can harvest our own peace by sowing acceptance of our nothingness as a being – then we can create meaning.
This is what I believe, changed Morgan. It is by learning through actually experiencing this concept in the being of Eastman. This episode transcends my understanding of “nothingness” wherein despite all the pain and misery brought about the zombie apocalypse, Eastman found his serenity and peace by looking at all life as good.(Fortunately, he studied psychology.) Indeed, peace is not the absence of war but despite it, you are still able to keep your peace. By realizing that we are nothing, we could create our own meaning and purpose then, become something. Morgan learned to respect life no matter how worst a person is. He learned to accept his vulnerability in the times where everything could be the source of pain and harm. He ressurected from being the walking dead to actually a living person by adopting a freshly picked perspective of life from the abundance of Eastman’s life. Now, that episode is philosophical!
If you look at this program in a different perspective the walking dead isn’t really just the walkers, but also, the living characters who are likewise, dead inside – surviving but not living.
After all, zombies are not just the one’s risen from the dead and eat brains but, it could be me and you, philosophically speaking.
Sometimes, we are all too consumed by what life gives us that we forget to nourish the life in us. Life is a free gift but living is a choice that comes with a great price. Realizing the we are “nothing” is not a complete nihilistic thought but it is “something” that we could take up to our advantage. When this thought sinks within our being, our individuality actualizes that fills our nothingness, therefore, we can live … we can thrive… and not just survive.
So, the question to leave here is… are you really living?