With 2016 firmly in the rear view mirror, I look forward to the road that is 2017.
Like anything else, we are in a constant state of change, even if it means all some of us are doing is sitting on the couch, staring at the clock, and watching the seconds slip by. How we choose to pass the time determines our path and helps shape our personal growth. Sometimes decisions and actions must be made which help clear the road for that growth. Often times, however, those decisions and action can be divergent from everyone else, or even evolved from some of your own long held beliefs.
It is no mystery I have a far different, even controversial at times, wilderness survival and preparedness philosophy than the community as a whole. And though we share the desire for the same end result—stay alive—in order to be true to myself, I’ve had to carve my own unfettered path, free of biases and ideologies.
November 2015 would be the last time I logged into facebook, spending just enough time there to hit the account delete button
With so many variables in play, the idea of survival expert has always made me cringe. To call yourself a survival expert has always made me feel you’re a jackass. Oh and be sure I’ve had more than my fair share of encounters with you survival donkeys.
I recently came across an article [here] on the Survival Sherpa website succinctly describing the relation between survival and expert:
My buddy Tommy runs a popular Facebook group and put an interesting spin on this disturbing online trend… something I’d never thought of but makes total sense.
Ah, yes, Biased Assimilation. That polarization which occurs when your beliefs become your religion and any new contradicting evidence is ignored, or twisted in a way which supports your beliefs.
This election cycle, actually all election cycles, proved biased assimilation is alive and well. Biased assimilation is that cerebral disorder which prevents us from being objective. If we have a firm belief in one party over the other, because of biased assimilation, we tend to follow news and events which favor that party, and dismiss news and organizations which may contradict our views, regardless if they are correct. Of course, this biased assimilation is not only reserved for politics. Every segment of society, including bushcraft and survival, suffers from it. Biased Assimilation, is that fault which makes people look like idiots. It is that fault which prevents people from being objective and take in new information
As an example, It is a well known fact people in the survival community hold in high reverence the ferrocerium rod (ferro rod). So convinced are they the ferro rod is the epitome emergency fire starting tool, they are quick to dismiss or make excuses for its shortcomings. Often times, they will attack and dismiss the more common and easier to use every day items in defense of their precious ferro rod.
And just like that the vein in my neck started to pulsate. I sat their with a look of disbelief. Did I hear correctly? Are you asking me to address you by your title? You smug sob. How is your title relevant to the matter? Your attempt to postulate outside of the appropriate setting causes me to have absolutely zero respect for you. And now anything you say next will only be challenged and have zero value. So much for what I thought was going to be a mutual exchange of information.
This happened not long ago, when I had to go visit my son’s school over an incident which occurred in the classroom. I thought I was going to have an amicable discussion with the principal, but when I greeted her
one day a fox happened across a vine of grapes growing high across a tree. On the vine were growing grapes. Though try and try as he may, the fox could not reach the grapes. The fox finally stopped and concluded the grapes were probably no good anyway and walked away. This is a classic example of cognitive dissonance.
Cognitive dissonance is the discomfort one feels when having to contradicting beliefs. In order to quell the disharmony, one postures in a way that creates more internal harmony. The fox convinced himself the grapes were no good in order to not feel discomfort in his lack of ability to reach the grapes. Similarly, a person who buys an expensive car might come up with virtues about the car which may help negate the fact the car is uncomfortable on long trips. When it comes to gear, one may take solace in the fact an item only cost a few dollars as way to make up for the item being dented or bruised. Surely had one paid full retail would the dent or bruise be unacceptable. Cognitive biases are often used to help firm a position and reduce dissonance.
Cognitive Biases prevent rational thinking and often lead to illogical behavior, so to are how many decisions made when assembling gear in the name of being prepared and survival.
Many people swear by mini kits. They are the last line of defense against ones survivability. It is the kit used when all other options are exhausted, or one’s primary kit has been ripped away
Few people have ever heard of Thomas Gray, let alone heard of his work, yet one of his coined phrases is as common as cars are on the street. In his “Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College,” This 1700s poet was responsible for the phrase “ignorance is bliss.” More correctly, in his ode it reads “Where ignorance is bliss, tis folly to be wise.” Simply translated; if someone is happy not knowing the truth, it would be foolish to tell them the truth and burden them with the knowledge. As an example; If I see someone, a child perhaps, caught up in joy and happiness, is it wise I tell them their pet died? Eventually, yes, though I dare not inform them at that moment, for fear of ruining their bliss.
Though grateful for the knowledge I’ve acquired throughout the years, I sometimes wonder would I have been better off not knowing some things? The angst I’ve experienced leading up to certain events was often worse than the event itself. In hindsight, I wish I wouldn’t have known before some misfortunes that lay ahead. Instead, I would have rather dealt with it when it unfolded. Of course, this is not true for all events. It is often prudent to know of certain things before they happen, so one can better prepare. Ahh, but there in lies the paradox. One can get caught in the mire of analysis over something that is supposed to be fun and relaxing. This analysis paralysis can lead to paranoia and take the joy out of what was supposed to fun and now plagued it with uncertainties and doubts.
Not knowing if I am ever going to complete the book I started writing two years ago, I decided to release this from what has already been written. Additionally, I actually did a video on it a few years ago which I will post at the end of this article. But at least with the article, one can get a much clearer description of how it all goes together.
You ever watch the scenes in the movie “The Rundown”, with Dwayne Jonson, where he gets lifted into a tree by a snare? How about “Return of the Jedi” when Chewbacca grabs that chunk of meat and triggers a net trap, sending him and the crew up into the tree? I’ve always loved traps of that style. In the bushcraft world, traps that would work on that scale simply aren’t realistic, because the Achilles hill of all spring type traps is the anchor. More often than not, an anchor is buried into the ground—a peg of sorts.
“That’s all your house is, it’s a place to keep your stuff, while you go out and get more stuff. Sometimes you gotta move and get a bigger house. Why? Too much stuff”
Those were the words George Carlin uttered as part of his famed “Stuff” routine in 1986 [Video Below]. And while on the eve of my move, I keep hearing his words in my head. I feel like I have too much stuff, albeit not nearly as much stuff as all the stuff other people have. Forget about the fact that in the last two years, save for my fishing rods, I’ve gotten rid of all my outdoor gear—dutch ovens, backpacks, outdoorsy clothing, lanterns, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, tents, etc.— all of my stuff still takes up two boxes each about two feet by two feet by ten inches high and yet I still feel like it’s too much stuff.
While I’m no minimalist, by the extreme definition, I’ve always been spartan and get easily annoyed with stuff just sitting there not being used. I don’t collect, keep or save things for the sake of memories and emotions. Things for me must serve a useful purpose, not satiate or elicit an emotion. Things must make sense in use, not just create a use for it to make sense— “Without purpose, there is no purpose.” Sure, I like the ideology of certain things, but rarely will I act on an ideology without thinking it through logically. In the event I do act impulsively, driven by ideology, and purchase something, I soon after end up getting rid of the item, or return it.
Some people need a cup of coffee. Others go for a run. Some go straight to the kitchen for some bacon and eggs. These are some of the morning rituals many go through upon waking. For me, I can not get my day started without a shower and a shave. I won’t even venture into the kitchen, den, or any other part of the house without first taking a shower and shaving. It doesn’t matter if I have no where to go and all I wish to do is watch television. It doesn’t matter if I showered before bed. Shower, shaving and getting dressed is first in the morning. It is a ritual which sets the tone of my mood for the day. If I can’t have a shower, at the least I need to have a wet wipe bath. Come hell or high water though I have to shave. That scruffy feeling about my neck, from a day old growth, is a no go. So fanatic I am with that, I often shave twice a day. It doesn’t matter if I am growing a beard. The neck, however, will be shaved religiously, as well as my head. To that end, my grooming ritual can be challenged when I am camping. None the less, It must be done, or I am in a foul mood until it can happen. It is paramount in establishing my PMA (Positive Mental Attitude). After a good smooth and clean shave, I feel unstoppable and anything is possible… That is not hyperbole. As a result, I tend to spare no expense in my pursuit for shaving nirvana. Weird, right? At the same time, however, the expense has to make sense.
By now, some of you may have noticed my overall absence from the community, not that it matters in the grand scheme of things. I’m just another voice frequently lost in the sea of rhetoric and bull shit. However, I’m probably considered one of the OGs of my time. I entered the fray at a time when survival was experiencing a renaissance, nearly 25 years ago. I’ve seen and been a part of much of the hype, all these years, often to my chagrin. I’ve been around during the inception of what is reality survival television. I’ve also been around to witness the twisted thinking it has created.
So tired I grew of all the bull shit spawned within the community, a few years ago I made a decision to distance myself from it.
Two years ago, I decided to write a book. The intent was to have it released last year, but I put it on hold. Though most of it is complete, pictures included, I’m not sure I will ever complete it, primarily because I’ve lost interest in the project. That said, I am including the rough draft (non edited) intro of the book here, because while for the last year I’ve been more and more absent from the community, It is interesting to note how those undertones of ire made it into the book. The intro gives an insight into how I’ve been feeling for a few years.