The Life Lessons of Carl Grimes

Meet Carl. Carl is a teenager who came of age in the Atlanta zombie apocalypse. His world view is shaped by his father, who was a no-nonsense sheriff  when the world still made sense and people weren’t re-animated monsters out for brains. Carl can teach you things. Important things. Also, Carl’s lessons might be spoiler-heavy so if you haven’t seen the first few seasons of The Walking Dead, this is your cue to avert your eyes and move along.

Learn to survive by accepting that the world is filled with people who are always hungry. They will never be satisfied with what they already have. These people will do their best to eat you alive with their chronic need for something, anything, be it attention, validation, drama, the works. Avoid them as much as possible. They are toxic, bottomless pits of need who can drag you down and make you one of them if you allow them to. Be like Carl. When confronted, either run away like Forrest Gump or (metaphorically!) stab them in the head and walk away.

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If a deer suddenly appears in the middle of nowhere in a seemingly tranquil glade when the world has already gone to hell, it’s a trope. I mean trap. IT’S A TRAP. Be on your guard because you may enjoy the next few minutes, but life will come for you. Life will always come for you. Constant vigilance! Don’t get shot, like Carl.

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Step outside your comfort zone. If your mother is busy giving birth in the middle of a zombie onslaught and needs you to help give her an un-anesthetized c-section right then and there to save the baby, grit your teeth and pick up a knife. Ignore the trivial and focus on what matters. Like Carl.

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Allow yourself to feel. When you’re forced to end the life of someone you care about because they’re going to die and turn into a zombie, things can get to be too much. Acknowledge it then move on and try to learn from the experience. Keeping everything bottled up inside will eventually drive you cuckoo banana crackers and you don’t have the time or the luxury to indulge yourself too much if you want to survive. Be a pro and move on like Carl.

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Understand that the truth is the truth. If someone was a ragey, abusive douchebag who got what was coming to them, never be afraid to state the facts. It’s one thing to be tactful; another to be so politically correct that a spade can no longer be called a spade for fear of offending said spade. That’s just crazy talk. State the facts like Carl.

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Finally, always be grateful for life’s little joys. One can never be too picky about dessert. Pudding in a can? Take it and run. You’ll never know when you’ll find pudding in a can again. Eat all the pudding and enjoy yourself, like Carl.

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If more people lived by the tenets of The Walking Dead, we might have less easily outraged, perennially bored, self-entitled consumers who think the world is their oyster and that they are, somehow, owed something. Humanity needs the adaptable, the  mentally tough and the ones who have learned how to fight their own battles. Also, I clearly watch way too much TV.

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