On Survival, Awareness, Psychology and MortalityPosted: July 13, 2011
When I was younger, just like a lot of young men, I used to look at various websites depicting death and carnage and what not like rotten.com and goregallery.com and the like. It’s a morbid curiosity I think every person has gone through at some point. My buddies and I would sit around, with our beers purchased for us by the neighborhood “hook up guy” and look at various ways people have bitten it and go “MAN THIS ONE IS EFFED UP!!!”. And you wonder, “Did this person have any idea that this was going to happen? Did they see this coming?” Chances are the answer is no. Unless they were intentionally committing suicide they had no idea death was waiting to shake their hand.
Pondering on that, no one can EVER know when it’s their time. I would put money down on the bet that a lot of those deaths occurred because these people weren’t aware. I believe that moving without being aware and knowing is wasted movement. They didn’t pay attention to what was going on around them. People are creatures of comfort. They like thinking they are safe in their home, or their car is going to get them from A to B, or they can walk down the street and not get mugged or shot or raped. They have a mentality that nothing bad is ever going to happen to them and that if they are ignorant to certain things, they can’t be affected by them. They read about it in the paper or see it on the news but they don’t think it will ever actually happen to them. As the old saying goes, “ignorance is bliss”. They are living but they don’t know how to survive. This is a fatal flaw.
I grew up with a survival mentality. I had a father who was a survivor in the “streets” (he lived a HELL of a life and that’s all I’ll say about that) and I had a grandfather who was an outdoorsman; he knew how to survive in the wild (he is a purist in the sense that he only hunts with a bow and is HUGE on primitive survival). Both men knew how to survive in their respective environments and they knew how to do it very well and I was lucky enough to have both men teach me their ways. Learning those skills from a young age makes you very aware of what is going on around you and it’s something I believe EVERY person should learn and know from a very young age. Knowing how to survive in any environment is INVALUABLE. The real comfort is in knowing how to survive if your lost on a hike, your plane goes down, or your lost at sea. Likewise, if your car craps out in the middle of an unfamiliar neighborhood and you know how to carry yourself properly so as not to look like a potential target and have the ability to spot potential threats to your safety. I call this “Total Survival” and it’s absolutely ESSENTIAL for keeping your ass alive in today’s world. You have a survivalist mentality and no how to survive no matter what environment you are in where ever you are.
It’s one thing to know how to build a fire with a flint and striker, or even a bow drill, or how to build a dead fall to catch some food and build yourself a lean to or wickiup to sleep in. But, when you are in an urban environment where most of the time you are surrounded by people who possess lower moral and ethical standards then yourself it is essential to know how to handle yourself. I’ve been a martial artist for a LOOONG time. I’ve learned many different martial arts and I’ve done so for a reason. You never know where or when your physical person is going to be threatened and how the fight will go down. Real fights are nothing like the choreographed bullshit you see on the movies and TV; they are BRUTAL. I’ve studied multiple different martial arts from Boxing to Kenpo, Aikido to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Japanese Jujitsu; I’m a student of all arts martial and combat and I did this for the reason that no I wasn’t limiting myself. Wherever the fight went I could handle it. I can stand with you or if you want to go to the ground I’m just as comfortable there. It’s nice to know those fundamentals. I’ve used those fundamentals to aid me in actual altercations. I’ve knocked people out and I’ve choked people out. I’ve had brawls and I’ve ended fights in a few seconds. Those situations are wonderful and very fulfilling in a sense that you knew how to apply those fundamental skills well enough that you didn’t have to think. They were just there when you needed them and you were able to apply them to a real world situation to defeat your opponent. However, you will also learn by fighting you learn that no matter how much martial arts skill you have, when you are faced with someone who literally wants to take your head off, you do what you have to do. Throat, eyes, ribs, nose, solar plexus, groin, knees… nothing is off limits and everything is about ending that fight as quickly and efficiently as you can with as little damage to yourself as possible. That is also the essence of survival. No matter how crafty you are in the woods or how slick you are at hustling in the street, if you can’t protect your ass, those skills don’t matter.
On the other side of the coin, you can be the slickest cat on the street, but if your dropped on a mountain in the middle of nowhere with nothing but the clothes on your back and the shoes on your feet, no amount of fighting prowess is going to save you. Sure the agility, stamina and situation assessment skills you learn from martial arts can’t hurt, but they are not going to get you shelter, food, water or rescue. You can’t run down and choke out a deer, you can’t go Zangief on a bear and you can’t kick down an oak or a willow to build a wickiup to sleep in. These are skills you develop over many years of use and practice. If you can assess your situation and know your basic needs as they pertain to survival, you know you need protection from the elements, where you can aid your cause in obtaining rescue and water and finally food. How to build a fire for warmth (and most often for sanity). Your chances of getting out alive increase many times over. Learn to build a fire from many different things. Learn to build traps for food. Read and learn to identify edible, medicinal and poisonous plants. Learn about dangerous wild life. Learn to tie knots. Everything is invaluable
In addition to actual skills, (and in some cases in complete lack there of) a WILL to survive is necessary. I say in some cases a complete lack of because there are stories of people who have had ZERO survival training or experience but what they did have was simply the PSYCHOLOGICAL WILL to survive and they were able to do so. The story of Helen Klaben and Ralph Flores is an example. They were just regular guys who had no specialist training and made the error of flying their plane in weather they knew they shouldn’t be flying in. The odds were very against them as they failed to take advantage of learning how to handle themselves should their plane go down and it did. The reason why they survived was their spirit. Their will. They did what they had to do and they got out alive. You can have all of the skills in the world in your respective environment but if you run out of hope and the will to use those skills, it’s just as well that you even had them. Because you will probably end up dead.
Another skill to have that is imperative to survival is observation. Just being observant. Noticing things how they are and exactly when they change and how that change is in relation to you. My wife calls me a detective all the time because I can pick up on subtle changes to things most don’t notice simply because I observe EVERYTHING. People look at things every day. But they don’t really observe. Where is the Pepsi emblem in relation to the word Pepsi on the front of the bottle. I bet you had to look because you didn’t remember. You may drink it everyday and still not know what it even looks like. You see the emblem without taking into account of the composition and layout of the icon and the word Pepsi itself, but if asked later down the line you don’t remember. That’s where observation comes in. Observe people and do it often. Learn how they react to things. See how they handle certain situations. And observe people at all levels in life, from the homeless guy on the side of the highway exit to the CEO of your company. Observing lets you know how to communicate with and handle people effectively and, therefore, survive. I observe everything. If I notice something is off, I’ll say so. It’s saved my ass more than once. In the wild observe what the clouds are doing, how the animals are behaving, etc. This will allow you to determine what upcoming weather might be like. You could observe patterns in animal movement that may allow you to more easily catch yourself a meal. Observation is critical.
Another aspect of survival is to open your mind. Know what COULD happen even if it hasn’t and in a lot of situations there’s no indication it will. I’m on various news websites daily such as CNN and other, more conspiratorial websites called AboveTopSecret.com and the like reading about conspiracy theories on everything from government to extraterrestrials, to cryptids and the paranormal. Some of it is obvious crap. But I run into A LOT of info that blows my mind and could very well be feasible. So I add it to my aresenal and I move on. There is no limit to the amount of knowledge you can (and SHOULD) gain when it comes to survival. Get out there, open your mind, read, sort the bullshit, absorb it, practice it and use it. ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN. And a lot of times it WILL happen. And knowing about it before hand can help you survive it.
To sum it all up:
Survival – Learn to survive WHEREVER YOU ARE. Learn to survive not only wooded mountainous areas but learn learn desert survival, swamp survival, cold weather survival, water survival, learn street survival, learn to defend yourself and ALWAYS be ready for whatever the world throws at you.
Awareness – ALWAYS BE AWARE. ALWAYS BE AWARE. Don’t be ignorant and think it can’t happen to you because it can and it will. Educate yourself on your surroundings. Know where to go and where not to go. Be aware of what and who is around you. Don’t walk through an unfamiliar area with your head down and your shoulders slumped. You will be marked. Walk with your head up and scanning your surroundings. Don’t get yourself in a position where you will get yourself killed. Know where you are at in relation to potential threats and know how to gtfo or if you absolutely have to, be aware of how you are going make sure that THEY want to gtfo. In addition, awareness means knowing what could potentially happen in ANY given area and being prepared for it. If your plane crashes, and you are aware of where the flotational devices are and the oxygen masks, where the weakest part of the plane is and where the emergency exit is, you have a better chance at surviving.
Psychology – The psychological aspect of survival: I survived, I survived for a reason, and now I’m going to keep doing every damn thing I can do to survive. This is critical. You could have all the skills in the world, MacGuyver. You could build a compound with some bamboo, paper clips, chewing gum and a shoe string, but if you aren’t mentally there for the fight you should just count yourself out. YOU HAVE TO HAVE IT. Also called the “Will to Live”.
Mortality – Mortality occurs when survival and awareness and the will to live fail to coexist. Those people mentioned in the first paragraph who appear on those websites died because they weren’t aware of what was going on around them and they were killed in a car wreck or shot or stabbed or fell off of a building or just weren’t paying attention and had a pole rammed through their head. They thought the guy on the corner with the overcoat and silly grin on his face was just being overly friendly. Or they didn’t know that they had to store leftover food stuffs 300 yards from a camp and a bear came in and ate them. AKA – DEAD.
Everyone has sense of their own mortality in some way. It’s built into our psyches. Looking at those people who have died in horrific manners reminds us of our own mortality and that it can happen at any time. People are afraid of that sense of mortality because they don’t know what happens after you go. It can be downright debilitating for some people and more often then not they never leave their home because of it. But, like I said earlier, “chance favors the prepared mind” and if you have learned and you have practiced and you are aware of what “could” happen…becoming aware by reading, research, observing, paying attention to EVERYTHING… and then learning how to react and adapt to those situations, and then applying it with everything you have to keep yourself alive when faced with any situation, you may never have to face that mortality head on.
When a basic survival mentality and awareness, with a will to keep it moving coexist, and wasted movement is absent, your chances at living a long and happy life are that much better in the end. And in todays society, this should be something taught in schools as a required course. But that’s just my opinion. See you at the end of the world. Whenever the hell that is. But you can be sure I’ll be there. Surviving. And waiting to fuck shit up