Once upon a time in a book… III

The great outdoors! What a magnificent feeling, for those who take the time to explore it…
I once did gather from my mind the memory of the entire time, which I have spent camping in the outdoors. I came up with about two full years, when I stopped counting.
My choice of camping-out would mean setting up a tent, allowing myself to bring-with only the essential equipment. This would not include anything which would have to depend on modern civilization, with the exception of my car, in order to take me as far as it could. And from there on I would carry all my camping stuff on my shoulders, to the place I would have first spotted and scouted out.

It brings now a smile on my face, when I think of all the mistakes I did when I first started doing this. “What mistakes?” you might ask… Well, my dear friends… all of them!!! Ha-ha… But little by little I learned, simply enough because I loved doing this, so I kept on going.
How to find the right place… What gear to bring along… How to understand the surrounding…
There is no enjoyment if you don’t learn all that, because your instinct might be telling you that “this must be great”, but your own ignorance and clumsiness are equivalent to a goofy-like funny catastrophe. We have come to a point of comfort, through our civilization, which has totally disconnected us from nature. Now don’t get this wrong, I love civilization as much as I love nature. But taking that “step back” and living for a while in the wild, is not just a hobby or pastime… It is more of a kind of school, a re-learning of what we once knew. 

When one is to become experienced enough (if there ever is such a thing when exposed to the open nature) you just stand there… And at some point you look, you feel and you know, that this surrounding is part of you and you are part of it!
This has nothing to do with going out in the open, full packed and equipped, and then trying to prove that you can “tame” nature with crazy stands, shooting at animals, behaving like a madman, and on top of it all broadcast your feats on social media for others to see.

The right stuff
One of the first questions I usually get, that once upon a time were mine too, is: “what do I need to have in order to do this?”
Well, as regarding equipment, I could catalog them into three stages:
1. Bringing along the wrong gear…
2. Bringing along the right gear…
3. Bringing along as less of the right gear…
And for some funny reason, there is no avoiding that first part, because even if you would gear-up a person correctly, he would have no clue of how to use it! We could call that stage “the right gear on the wrong person”. But these mishaps, at the beginning, are more fun than they sound like here, usually innocent mistakes… Unless you turn of the wrong corner and find yourself lost in the wild. If underestimated, a half mile of easy looking canyon, can be the end of you, even if it is a breath away from a mall which is full packed with people… Even the smallest canyon has its very own micro-climate, its own wildlife, apart from the fact that no kind of electronic device (cell-phone, GPS, you name it…) operates there!
I don’t write this in order to discourage you in any way, if you are not acquainted to, the wild is just like the great city. Would you cross a street without looking? Would you go to a neighborhood of bad reputation and act lightheaded?

As time and repetition progressed my skill, I learned to carry less and less gear with me, since I started to build what I needed from what I found around me in nature.

I never was into the “surviving cult” in any way, at least not in the sense that Preppers and Survivalists (as they are often called or call themselves) mean it. Constantly awaiting the great catastrophe coming from all possible sides, be it a war, economic collapse, earthquake, flood, asteroid crash, alien invaders, zombie apocalypse, and so on and so forth…
But I once got to know a person, who was in that direction of thinking, and at some point he was kind enough to give me a book as a gift. And while I was reading it my surprise was double. First surprise was that, disaster or not, THIS was maybe among the most practical and useful books that a man could have. Second surprise was that, in many ways and due to my camping-out times, I already was… a survivalist! 

This magnificent book goes under the title:
SAS Survival Handbook by John “Lofty” Wiseman

The skill of surviving is a bit like our Freedom. It is something that we do not pay much attention to, simply enough because it is “there” just like the air that we breathe. In a similar manner, surviving skill, becomes “somebody else’s” interest and hobby, it is not important at the moment, it is just… boy-scout stuff.
Until one day, suddenly and without warning, surviving skill violently screams with its absence, while everything we know of, crumbles down falling apart…
On a “normal day” whenever there is an emergency of some sort, our priorities change, and we deal with the problem at hand, putting our priorities into a different order. But when a surviving situation occurs, something strange happens. Suddenly, there are no more priorities left, in order to somehow arrange them…
Nothing else matters, but survival!
Have you ever been “there”?! If yes, then you know what it feels like… If no, then I have little chance to make you understand, because the feeling alone is unique and much unlike any other. It’s like a nightmare that you are experiencing for real, and you pinch yourself to wake up… but it hurts!

We see the picture everyday in our TV and we are getting used to seeing it. A catastrophe occurs and people sit around helpless, waiting for help to arrive.
In most occasions, the victims of a calamity do little or do nothing, in order to improve their situation.
Until other people arrive… Rescuers, Firefighters, the Army, Volunteer groups, the United Nations etc. And the first thing they do is one: They put things in order according to a plan, which they are trained to deploy! In situations like that I always had the question in me. Why is it that people of an area which has been hit by a catastrophe are unable to help themselves?
The answer is plain and simple. Because they lack any essential training in order to do something and they have never prepared themselves for anything…

The truth on surviving is that you can never be prepared enough, predicting at the same time what to prepare for!
This is not just a serious or well put thought. It could actually be an axiom, for those who do nothing else but… preparing themselves. A behavior like this is equivalent to being totally ignorant on the subject.

To improvise with what you have and deal with the situation ahead is closer to surviving skill than digging a hole with supplies in it.
Once, preparing how to die, was an axiom of the Samurai warriors… A little bravery and attitude into that direction would not harm after all. What is life worth when living in constant fear of losing it?

Having that said, does not mean that I will not regularly check upon my backpack which by now includes the… essentials (for me).
Lofty’s handbook, a surviving knife and, I hope, a little brain too!

September 25, 2017