Face it. I’ve been hopelessly hypervigilant since I got lost one gorgeous summer day when I was about 8 years old. I remember trudging through the woods for over six hours with my slightly younger cousin and an uncle and second cousin who were about four years older. We had the dog with us. We were all clueless. By the time we emerged, they were dredging the lake. It wasn’t fun.
Ever since, any time I entered the woods it was only to walk on a marked trail with a map clutched in hand as I tried to look relaxed for the benefit of my kids. Suffice it to say the spontaneous enjoyment of natural surroundings has pretty much not been a big part of my adult life. Or wasn’t until I did a BareBones Primitive Survival overnight a while ago for an article I was writing for Odyssey magazine. At the request of the editor, I took my teenage son along to Mountain Shepherd Wilderness Survival School.
Reggie Bennett and Byron Kerns – both SERE instructors – taught us how to make transpiration bags to get water from green leaves. They taught us a foolproof way to get a fire started. They had us build temporary shelters out of plastic tarps. When I awakened the next morning, I was actually relaxed. In the woods. No doubt my solid tang knife had a lot to do with it. As did the fact that my son was counting on me to set the tone. I’m still not much of an adventurer but I am now able to think about hiking in the woods without hyperventilating. And these days the map can stay tucked away in my daypack when I’m on a marked trail.
All of which is to say that it’s no surprise I’m drawn to survival literature. I’ve just finished reading “The Unthinkable” by Amanda Ripley. An excellent book, it talks about the three stages on the way to survival and what you can do to move quickly to the survival state. I’m just starting “The Survivor’s Club” by Ben Sherwood but I went online already and took the quick Survival Profile quiz last night. This morning I went back to take the full version and I’m delighted with my results. Seems that early horrific experience has turned into a good base for a solid approach to life’s uncertainties. All that therapy probably had something to do with it, too……