Pity for the Walking Dead: Keep Fighting

“These people, thousands of them, were called the Muselmänner, the ‘moslems’ or ‘walking dead,’ for whom time ran out before they were able to shake the sense of nightmare and wake to their predicament. They starved, they fell sick, they stumbled into situations which got them killed. For them the collapse was too much, too many psychic and physical blows too fast, until the momentum of decline increased beyond reversal. They died inwardly, and as their spirit withered their outward aspect was terrible to see.”

– Terrence Des Pres, The Survivor: An Anatomy of Life in the Death Camps

One month ago, I began writing a story which I dropped to focus on the #52ShortStories challenge. Terrence Des Pres’ book was a part of my research, and this particular section hit me in many ways.

It’s usually a bad idea to compare something so terrible as life in a Nazi death camp to something so light as art and craft, but I thought the analogy to those that have given up on their dreams made a certain amount of sense.

A couple of years ago, I fell into this state of the muselmänner, the walking dead. I stopped writing. I stopped reading. I stopped exercising. With the birth of my son and a myriad of other life events, the excuses piled up on my shoulders until I was crushed beneath their weight.

Every word I typed felt wasteful, almost painful. I couldn’t focus. Acid reflux as a result of unhealthy eating habits did a number on my body. I was always feeling under the weather. What was the point of it all?

“The surivor’s will to go on is illogical, irrational, stupid with another wisdom…Life in extremity reveals in its movement a definite rhythm of decline and renewal…Survivors not only wake, but reawake, fall low and begin to die, and then turn back to life.”

– Terrence Des Pres, The Survivor: An Anatomy of Life in the Death Camps

And so I cycled back at some point to that reawakening, a slow one to be sure, but heading in the right direction.

Here I am now, in the best shape of my life, finally achieving a state of steady flow with my writing. It’s not always easy, but it’s easier.

If you’re feeling like a muselmänner, the fact that you’re reading a blog dedicated mainly to the craft of writing gives me hope for you. There’s still a void inside of you that you’re looking to fill. I want to tell you not to waste another minute. Get back in the game now! But I’ve come to believe that we have our timetables by which things seem to work out.

I can only hope that my voice contributes to shedding your current skin and guides you toward your reawakening.

-Phillip

2 thoughts on “Pity for the Walking Dead: Keep Fighting”

  1. I’ve written, then deleted, a dozen comments for this post. They all sound trite, or over the top, or insincere, or all three. So I’ll stick with something simple.

    Thank you.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.