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    Profile photo of benjammin

    Just how prepared are you to survive? I’m not talking about your provisions, or how many self defense classes you’ve completed, or how many miles you run every week. These are only superficial aids to survival. Where is your mindset? What are you willing to endure to keep going where others might give up? What is your breaking point? Where are your limits?
    The reason I ask, and the purpose of the title of this article, is because all the superficial things we have and do to prepare for an eventual hardship won’t mean a thing if our resolve is not there. The story of Papillon is a story of intense hardship, and constant struggle to overcome and survive, with extremely limited resources and skills. Papillon, like so many other characters in history and literature (Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Emdond Dantes, Alistair Urquhart) had or found a willpower to make it through extreme adversity, tolerate immense cruelty, live off the foulest and most meager scraps and morsels of sustenance, and find a way to make it out alive.
    In all the examples of real survival, it seems that the imperative constant for success is the drive to do whatever it takes, regardless of means or methods, to get through it. Once an individual reaches a limit past which they cannot/will not proceed, their survival odds seem to drop dramatically. But, there is another component to ultimate survival, which goes hand in hand with willpower. That is creative thought. That combination of determination and imagination (or the ability to see your way through a problem to a solution, and accepting that course of action), is “The Edge”. I’m not entirely sure how this skillset gets developed into one’s character. It is not just a function of training and education. It is more like an awakening or a dawning of an awareness. Some people get it, some don’t, despite being exposed to essentially the same conditions and circumstances.
    To be sure, my examples are in the extreme, but in choosing them I seek to emphasize the point. If you can’t find a way inside yourself to eat the bug(figuratively speaking), then you are not going to make it.
    It is a gratifying notion to consider our preps and how they will help us save ourselves. I am as guilty as any of stockpiling “stuff” that I know how to use effectively in the hopes that someday it will help me keep above the worst of it. But real survival, that point where life hangs on decisions and action in the here and now, has to be able to function independent of preps, and focus on dealing exclusively with what is at hand. That is not to discount the importance of those preps. Just that the decisive element is the generation of a response, which comes only from within us. It is the prepared mind that matters.
    So in final contemplation of this survivalist mindset, I am reminded of the DH Lawrence quote from the poem “Wild Things”. “I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself. A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself.” In true survival mode, we must be a wild thing at heart. We must be able to control ourselves to deal with only the objective, and leave the subjective for another time. We must separate our critical analysis from our initiative. When you are in trouble, it is not the time to worry that you don’t have the right tool to solve the problem. Just find a way to solve the problem and move on. Don’t get hung up on how bad it is going to be after losing your knife, or a finger, or your BOL. Do what you can to get past it, and move on. Recover, and improvise. Being able to get into and stay in this mindset is the path to success. I’ve watched people who were successfully escaping from a firefight stop, turn around, and try to retrieve their pistol after they dropped it. They quit thinking in the moment, became distracted by the what-if consideration of future possibility that had nothing to do with their current predicament, and placed themselves back in peril. Their critical analysis overcame their initiative and almost cost them everything.

    Profile photo of Brulen

    I just read a story about the meaning of being tough. Not quite our time period but you can relate. Google and you shall find, its only about 32 pages. Also on the Nys military museum site.

    A Battle Fought on Snowshoes: Rodgers Rangers at Lake George

    Profile photo of MountainBiker

    Good post Benjammin. My guess is that some who think they are strong enough will find that they are not while others find an inner strength that they didn’t know they had.

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