The Awakening. The Story of my Path

survivalBy 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.

………………………….

Oh to go back to my youth, a time when rules really didn’t apply, except those laid down by my parents. [chuckling] Even they didn’t apply at times. Back then, if we wanted to play pirates, any old stick would do as a sword. If we wanted to play cowboys and Indians, often times, we would just use our hands held in the shape of a pistol and that was well enough. Even today, as I watch my kids play, they are so full of wonderment and excitement, the things they use are only secondary to their imaginations. Of course, today they’ve graduated from using stick swords to something a little more sword like in nature—a Chef’s knife sharpening rod. I mean c’mon, just look at it! It looks like a sword. If I had one of those growing up, I could’ve been a real pirate.

When we wanted to go camping, we would make makeshift bindles and carry our supplies in them. Our lean-tos were nothing more than a bed sheet, or one of dad’s old tarps we found lying in the corner of the garage. An old empty coffee can mom had thrown out was a perfect billy. Who cared about what knot you used to tie up that old sheet or tarp. If it held, that’s all we cared about. Our knives? Well, that was a different story altogether. We had to sneak into the kitchen and steal mom’s most prized knife and hope she never found out, or get into dad’s old tackle box and grab his old fishing knife, covered with more rust, fish blood and scales, than you can shake a stick at. With gear in tow, we would set out on our own personal backyard adventure. Back then our gear didn’t matter. Having fun was our number one priority. Come to think of it, gear really didn’t matter, even well into my early adult years. Sure gear choices became more a matter of practicality, but never was it “we had to have this brand or that brand”. Then again, I really didn’t follow the Sears, L.L Bean catalog, or other outdoorsy magazines. I guess ignorance truly was bliss.

Sometime, in the earlier part of the nineties, I discovered this thing called the internet, and a whole new world opened up to me. I was now able to chat with others about their outdoor pursuits. And that’s when it started, what I now call the “out of control spiral down the rabbit hole into a world full of out of control commercialism, superfluous hero worship, and high school shenanigans, to include all the heel gnawing and backbiting so prolific in high school.” All of a sudden, what I had wasn’t good enough anymore, never mind it had worked wonderfully until then. Not to be left behind, I did what anyone else my age would do—I jumped in the shark tank and started swimming with the sharks. I began acquiring this gear and that gear while poking fun of those who chose much simpler items—just like the items I used to carry that had worked so wonderfully for me. If you didn’t know at least five different knots and their applications, you weren’t allowed to hang with the cool kids. And you were really special, if you could spin up a hand-drill coal and might even be allowed into the inner circle of deities. Oh and dare not the person who would challenge the thoughts and ideas of the community, for that person would have the ravenous vultures descend on them and pluck them apart. I mean it’s okay to be innovative and all, just don’t go against the standards set forth by the community… I’m still trying to figure out who those are that set said standards. Seems to me it starts with mr/mrs popular, then driven by the international society of fan boys.

Sadly, today, none of that has changed. Quite frankly, it has actually gotten much worse, thanks to the ever growing popularity of social media. The only thing different is I have distanced myself, as far as possible, from those circles and behavior. Truthfully, I am quite repulsed by others who find fulfillment in poking fun of others for their philosophies and ideologies. Actually, that’s not entirely true. I do find it rather amusing when someone attempts to back me into a corner using whimsical fallacies, because I now challenge certain community ideologies. Perhaps it is age, wisdom, or a combination of both, but ever since my “giveadamn” broke, and am no longer shackled by products and the rhetoric of others, I find my time out of doors and in the wild more enjoyable. I guess one can akin it to that moment in the movie “The Matrix” when Neo swallows the red pill and the truth opens up to him.

I know what you’re thinking, “Oh no is this going to be a book all about Alan’s rants?” The answer is no, that’s another book all together, though I may inject my opinions here and there. This book is about the tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way throughout the years in the outdoors. Most of the things here are original with me, as far as I know, including my opinions, lol.

Here, let’s start with one of my opinions. I think it’s ridiculous to hear over and over again and to see charts about the many knots every camper, bushcrafter, outdoorsman should know. The only knot you need to know is an overhand knot. An overhand knot used as part of a system will meet all of your camp needs—setting ridgelines, hanging bear bags, lashing poles, etc.. I can sense it already, the shutter some of you are experiencing from just reading this. Don’t worry, I’ll explain my position later in the book and share the systems I use.

This book is not about the brand of gear you take, that’s a personal matter. It is not the product, but how you use what you have. Throughout this book, however, I may refer to a product, but only because it is what I use. That said, the reader will find I am spartan in what I choose for gear. I don’t believe it is necessary to pay a king’s ransom in order to enjoy the outdoors. That is left to the whim of others who find fulfillment in spending on such things.

Another thing you may find is I challenge conventional wisdom. It’s not because I am hell bent on challenging everything, rather I attempt to examine things in a logical fashion. And if the logic makes more sense, then why not do it the way it makes more sense?

I have a good friend who is a talented martial artists. He tells me that one day he looks at a bow staff, holds it, and examines it. Now mind you he’s never used a bow staff to any great degree. He, for what ever reason, decides to compete with it for the first time. Well, long story short, he goes on to defeat a grand champion, not once, but several times. Why did this happen? Because he looked at it through a fresh set of eyes, not eyes clouded by rules set forth by who knows who. The grand champion was just doing what he had been taught. My buddy just used logic and common sense.

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Use logic and common sense. Don’t be afraid to experiment and challenge conventional wisdom. Sure you may make some enemies along the way, but you’ll also feel liberated. Someone once told me “Free Thinking has it’s price”. I agree, and I’d be happy to pay more than I have for what I’ve learned.

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13 comments on “The Awakening. The Story of my Path
  1. Todd Walker says:

    You childhood sounds an awful lot like mine, Alan. My brother and two buddies camped out on horse back many times with nothing more than a borrowed knife, a camp hatchet, and a brown paper bag with a few cans of beans stuffed inside. It was so simple then.

    Thanks for taking us back!
    ~ Todd

    • admin says:

      Thanks, Todd

      Yes, life truly was more simple back then. We’ve all become victims without knowing it, just like a live frog in boiling water. We get so caught up within our circles of influence, we often can’t imagine or recall a life outside of it. It literally becomes our norm.

      An interesting game I play with students that show up to my classes early is trying to figure out who is showing up to join us and who isn’t… It is so easy to put people in groups. Those that are joining us, for the most part, are dressed like they are going for a hike. They have that outdoorsy appearance. If they’re not joining us, they have a different look all together, perhaps shorts, sneakers and a loose t-shirt as an example. Every group has it’s idea of how it’s supposed to dress. it really is amusing. We’ve been indoctrinated into a certain way of thinking, dressing, and acting, often at the expense of common sense. There is no rhyme or reason for it either.

  2. John Rensing says:

    Fuckin’ wanker. Lighten up. Your friends miss you.

    • admin says:

      Hey, John. Though posting this article may give the illusion I am not, I assure you I am at peace with my decisions. I posted it, because I found myself chuckling upon re-reading it and felt like sharing it. I thought it was amusing how seduced I’d become by it all.

      Hope all is well with you and yours.

  3. Hector Morales Jr. says:

    Ah, Brother Halcon, good to hear you’re doing well. I really need to attend your classes, definitely won’t be able to make it this month. Don’t be surprised when I show up, if anything just to say Hi and get good training. Still with SAR and at Ft. Irwin.

    Hector

    • admin says:

      Hector, don’t know how I missed this. Glad you’re doing well, my friend. We will have to get together sometime soon

      Alan

  4. sean says:

    i must admit that, though I am young, that I used to be part of the community and blindly went along with their ideas and thought that anyone that didn’t wouldn’t have a hope in hell of surviving in fact, the very first article I read of yours was one of the lighter vs ferro rod pages and my first thought was something along the lines of ‘ wow this guy is such an idiot, he wold never last a day in the bush.’ about a month and a half later I realised that you were right or at least more right than me. you made me see bushcraft in a way that I had never before. I used to argue about which belt buckle was better. now I see it clearly.

    I am glad to have made this mistake so young lest I continue thinking that way.

    sorry for the length of this reply.

    • admin says:

      Sean, Wow! I must admit, I am at a loss. Thank you. There is a saying; “Hike your own hike.” The more you venture into anything, bushcraft included, the more you realize what a commercial load of BS it is.

      I am fascinated by watching documentaries of other cultures and how they get along in the bush. Those peoples could run circles around many many many bushcrafters and survivalists. None of them are caught up with the commercialism found in the community. Andrew Zimmern’s show, “Bizarre Foods” is a great example. Watching him go around the world and watching him get along and interact with natives of the area is enough to make you hang up your dutch ovens.

      I’m really curious to learn more of some of your other viewpoints—awakening— on bushcraft and survival. please share

      • Sean says:

        I would like to start off by saying my mantra on almost all subjects”If it works, it works.”,basically meaning, I don’t judge others because their methods or gear are different, as long as it works for them I’m happy. Now keeping that in mind I shall tell you of one or two different matters that I disagree with you on, firstly I will explain to you why I edc a knife: I live on a farm and do a lot of jobs on a daily basis that require a knife (eg cutting fishing line, whittling, cutting open those damned zooper dopper packets etc.) I use a small folder to do those jobs and would find a large knife, 6cm and up, to be too unwieldy for my purposes. Secondly, I also carry a lighter with me just in case I get lost as I have done so on many occasions ( mind you our farm is over a thousand acres so it is easy to get lost) therefore I have the peace of mind that I will be able to light a fire.

        If there are more opinions you would like to know then do not hesitate to ask.

  5. admin says:

    Sean, I’m not exactly sure in which regard you disagree with me.

  6. admin says:

    Oh! You’re referencing the other article.

    You should probably re-read the article. In it I am very specific about “Me” not EDCing a knife. I also say:

    “Now, now! Don’t get your feathers ruffled. I do realize some of you have real legitimate reasons and I do respect them[but I digress].”

    Here we are about two years without EDCing a knife and I don’t miss it at all.

    The point is, as I wrote in the article, If I am going to do a job which requires a knife, I have a knife. But If I’m not going to do that task, I don’t. I even gave the example of fishing. Truth be told, however, when I am fishing, I don’t use a knife to cut line as you do. I use scissors or finger nail clippers.

    A carpenter carries his hammer when performing his job. He doesn’t walk around with it all day. A sushi chef has his knifes while performing his job. He doesn’t walk around with them all day. The examples go on and on.

    All that to say, It’s been two years and I don’t miss one, so in my case show me where it is necessary. Also, analyze the multitude of people you come across who don’t carry one. Don’t you think if they really needed one they would carry one?

    • Sean says:

      As I said before I live on a farm where I often have to kill newborn roosters every few days and neuter sheep, now this happens irregularly but I have to check on them everyday and it is a lot easier to do it right there And then rather than have to run back to the shed to grab a knife.

      But aside from that I would like to thank you for clearing that up for me as I had thought that you were implying that no one should edc a knife.

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