Just a few years ago, I was satisfied with the concept that survival is all about calories. We’re trying to keep the calories we currently have stored in our bodies and get some more calories to keep going. In order to mitigate the calorie loss to our activity and the environment, we’d build shelters and fires so we’re not losing calories through shivering. We’d also boil our water so we don’t lose calories by pathogen-caused diarrhea. Then we’d hunt, fish, trap and forage to get more calories, hopefully enough to exceed our needs – or at least meet the bare requirements for life. Calories seemed like the best way to explain survival, but they weren’t the only factor.
Once I changed my view to “calories=survival” and that to survive – we needed to be good calorie managers, I found some big holes in my model. One of them was water. We need to preserve the water in our bodies and get more water, just like the calories. We also needed to manage our time in a survival setting. So for the past year, I’ve been explaining to classes that we’d need to be effective managers of calories, water and time in a survival situation. I still feel good about this, and believe there’s a lot of value in this framework, but it may be whole lot simpler than that.
Over the weekend, an old friend and I reconnected. We had many deep conversations, several about the subject of survival. We also talked about the adults we meet these days who have never struck a match before and the myriad of other skills that people are failing to learn in their formative years. At the end of it all, we felt like the variety of gaps in people’s knowledge and skills could be addressed with one basic skill set – problem solving. If more people knew how to problem solve (rather than googling all the answers to life’s questions), people would naturally become more competent, capable and resilient. This would be true in their mundane daily life, and it would come in very handy in an emergency setting. So maybe survival is simpler than counting calories and worrying about every drop of sweat you lose. Maybe survival is just an ongoing exercise in problem solving. Maybe survival is simply the ability to harness our God given creativity, the wisdom to recognize the most pressing problems, and the intelligence to apply the best available solution to the problem – whether the problem is calories, water, time or any other issue might face.
Be safe out there and God Bless!