How not to be a Zombie

A thought train on the need to find meaning in a rapidly changing world.

Jael R. Bakari
4 min readAug 11, 2023

The world is going to shit.

People far more cynical than me, would be more than content to report that it has in fact always been, but that’s beyond the point of this thought train.

The world is going to shit and I haven’t lived.

At least not according to the definition that American society has given me.

A life in review

Sure I’ve had life experiences as I expect anyone reading this has. Since graduating high school I’ve advanced in my age and studies. I’ve gotten married, divorced and re-married (to the man I divorced oddly enough), produced 4 children, lost my father to cancer, my mother to a fire, earned my degrees, worked multiple dead end jobs, wrote a few things, restarted more times than I’ve cared too, met some people, lost some people, at quiet times contemplated suicide (and even tried), had a brief bump of social media popularity (ish), discovered a God I could believe in, and smoked alot of weed.

It seems like a-lot when listed out like that but in the grand scheme of my 34 years on this planet, it’s all kinda blurred together into a haze of time kept by the rhythm of bill due dates, collection calls, pay days, and days off.

I can’t even say vacations because honestly I take those so few and far between due to the cost of “it’s always something” showing up the moment I seem to get my hands on a couple more dollars than my labor would earn.

Common Core

My story is not uncommon to those of my economic standing and background. I’d go so far as to venture, there are many other accustom slaves to the rhythm playing things out, numbed to their position with the vices of their choice, and maybe the comfort of a technological emotional support device providing a steady dose of distraction, outrage, and amusement.

But as the temperatures soar, and landmasses like Maui burn, and the weather grows more unpredictable, and businesses grow greedier, and rich people become more absurd, all while the government remains content to fiddle away with extremists on either side goading the public into fighting over their differences rather than uniting under their humanity, I don’t believe I have it in me anymore to live this way.

Not with some abstract goal being to one day own a home with a picket fence — and a dog — on the face of a scorched earth at least.

Or even the one of having enough money to fulfill my wildest dreams. What good is money when you can’t spend it cause everything is for lack of better words…over.

A dark meditation I know, but one doesn’t have to be psychic to see the way things are headed. Our way of living is largely unsustainable. We are slowly approaching the point where we will have dug the earth dry of its precious resources as we invent new things and ways to convert those things into zeroes on a bank balance held in some undisclosed tax shelter on the Cayman Islands.

That is the question

So what do you do when society’s version of living seems the mental equivalent of zombification? Endlessly working to live just enough for the city? Or on the other extreme, living to fight in a cage match against some other obscenely wealthy individual for … i dunno bragging rights, imaginary lordship of everything??? Who knows.

But there has to be more to life than whatever the fuck this is. There has to be more to living that what we’ve made of it.

I’ve been struggling to find this meaning for sometime now. I thought it was just in the last few years, but this philosophical conundrum has haunted me since adolescence when my mother bred the idea into me that financial freedom was my only hope, only shortly after realizing my childhood dream of becoming a doctor that involved undergoing undue stress, sleep deprivation and possible suicidal thoughts. Though in hindsight I ended up in that place anyway just without the credentials and constant threat of malpractice.

And the struggle becomes worse with each passing year and child I bring into this world, with this latest pregnancy sending me into a tail spin that had me literally ask the God of my ancestors:

How the fuck am I supposed to get this kid excited about life when I struggle to find a reason to live every day of my life?

What do I teach them?

What values are even worth passing on in the face of the apocalypse?

A call to action

I wish I could tell you I’ve found some philosophy or belief system that I could point to as a solution this mental conundrum I’ve found myself in.

In fact the copious amounts of weed I smoked up until a few months ago served largely to numb the nagging nature of this philosophical question I’d been running from.

But as I watch the residents of Maui deal with the loss of everything right now after a horrendous and unexpected wildfire literally wiped out the entire island, I am reminded yet again of how close each of us is to the same fate occurring without warning as the planet enters into what I genuinely believe is revenge mode — and I finally realize … I can’t run from this task anymore.

I need a new definition to what it means to live that I can make peace with — and a way of finding it that I can show my children how to do the same for themselves. Because what I find as meaning may not be suitable for them and the environment they find themselves in.

And chances are if this thought train found its way to you: so do you.



Jael R. Bakari

hero maker by day, psychic clown witch by night. writer of literary crack. future poor white billionaire. your favorite —ist