I get asked a lot of random questions given some of the things that I’m into, but the one I get most often, aside from inquiries about my all black arm, is why I always carry “all that stuff” with me. Sometimes this refers to my ever present “Nomad Bag”, but other times its due to someone needing some random item and my just so happening to have it stashed away in one of my pockets.
In general, I’m not all that fond of having a lot of “stuff”. I like to have what I need, but not much more. I don’t have TV’s in every room of the house, I don’t even have much in the way of furniture beyond what I use on a daily basis. But when it comes to things that are essential for life (food, water, shelter, warmth, a means of keeping myself and those I love safe, etc.) I’m a pretty firm believer in the prepper’s motto, “Two is one, and one is none.”
I don’t like having just one plan or tool in place just in case, I like to have redundancies because that fella Murphy and I are all too well acquainted. As they say, shit happens. And if shit happens to happen to that one thing you were counting on, and you don’t have a plan b, well then you find yourself up an entire creek of said shit watching your paddle float away like an errant turd. This is not a pleasant place to find oneself, and I rather prefer to avoid it whenever possible.
But what’s on my mind is less about actually BEING prepared, and more about trying to explain why I feel the need to be prepared all the time to people who ask. When people ask me what’s in the bag I carry and I tell them, most people look at me as if I’ve totally taken leave of my senses. “What are you going to do with all that stuff? Do you think you’re going to get stuck somewhere and have to hike all the way home?” they ask.
No, I don’t think I’m going to need to, not today at least. I certainly HOPE I won’t need to. But I do think that at some point, I might just find myself in such a situation and I’d rather have it and not need it, than need it and wish I had it. When I try to explain this “Be Prepared” mindset that was instilled in me so long ago thanks to years and years in the Boy Scouts while I was earning the rank of Eagle Scout, more often than not, it’s as if I’m trying to explain to someone that I’m really an alien from another planet or something.
It just makes me wonder, do they not live in the same world I do? Do they not watch the news or pay any attention at all to the ways our country is exposed and vulnerable to attack while tensions with foreign nations continue to escalate? Are they not experiencing the same weather shifts and hearing about all the natural disasters?
I’m not trying to promote fear or anything, it’s quite the opposite. If you’re aware of what’s going on and prepare yourself for what could happen, you’ve got nothing to fear. If the proverbial shit hits the fan, you’ll either die when it does, or you’ll survive that initial event. How shitty would it be to survive some major catastrophe like a natural disaster, only to get snuffed out by dehydration!
The part that really gets me though, is when I ask them what they’d do if some sort of event ever did happen that took out the power grid. The answer is often “I’d just come to your house, you’ve got it covered right?” Now I’m not talking about close friends and family here, I mean people I barely even know. I sometimes wish someone would take a photo of my facial expression each time I hear this, I’m very curious as to how much of my own inner dialogue gets conveyed in my reaction.
I really want to (but don’t) say to them, “And what exactly will you bring with you when you show up on my doorstep? Oh, your friends and family? Hmm… so you want to ignore my advice now, and then show up and expect that I’m going to be super sympathetic and jeopardize my own family for you. You don’t wanna put in any effort now when it’s simple and easy to do, but you’re expecting that I’ll trust that you’ll put in the effort when it’s not so easy? Did that sound as dumb in your head before you said it out loud?”
Like I said, I don’t actually say that. As personally satisfying as it might be to do so, even just once, it would pretty much shut down the conversation right there. I would be being an ass hole and any chance of getting through to them would be gone. I’d be instantly dismissed as a paranoid jerk. Instead I try to find some sort of scenario that doesn’t sound so far fetched to them and they can relate to. Probably 90% of the time, even when I do find some scenario they’ll buy into, my suggestions still have absolutely no effect.
Every once in a while though, I get someone that asks questions and wants to know more. They want to hear what I would suggest and learn how to go about getting ready. They want to learn survival skills and know how to build a fire without matches and lighter fluid now while they aren’t under the stress of NEEDING to do it to survive.
Most people like to think that when something happens, they’ll rise to the occasion and suddenly figure out how to do things because they don’t have any other choice. For a very miniscule number of people, this is true. But for the vast majority, most will not rise to the occasion, they’ll fall to the level of their training. I’m not sure where I originally heard that phrase so I can’t credit the author, I think it was a Navy Seal that adapted a quote from greek philosopher Archilochus.
But anyway, the point is that if you haven’t learned how to do something under ideal conditions and practiced it enough so that you don’t have to think about it too much and it’s almost automatic, chances are good that you’re not going to be able to figure it out when your cold, stressed, hungry, thirsty, and tired. This isn’t just something that “Non-preppers” need to be concerned about either.
A lot of people get into preparing for what could happen by gathering all kinds of stuff and storing it away, then feel safe and comfortable in the knowledge that they have what they need. That’s all well and fine so long as you’re with that stuff if something goes sideways and you know how to use it. But all the stuff in the world won’t do you a damn bit of good if you have no idea how to use it and Google and YouTube aren’t around to show you.
That’s part of the reason I like to consider myself more of a minimalist prepper. I keep enough of what I might need on hand, but rather than focusing on the physical stuff, I like to gain the skills, knowledge, and experience I need to survive no matter where I am or what I have with me. Basically, I’d rather be MacGyver than the dude with the underground bunker and armory.
This last part is one that, even among those that I can convince of the merits of being prepared, I lose people on. They’re happy to buy some extra canned goods, tp, water, and dried foods, but they’d rather wait til they HAVE to go walk outside and try to start a fire or build a shelter to give it a try.
So what’s the point of this evenings post? What am I trying to get across to you by sitting here and writing this all out? Am I trying to convince you that the sky is falling, and you better go stock up now while you can? That now is a good time to watch a few youtube videos on survival skills or binge watch a season of Naked and Afraid and then go try a few things for yourself?
No, not really. I’m just sharing my two cents on the topic, you do with it whatever you want. Your life is yours to live as you choose. Not my monkey, not my circus. I am, however, saying that if shit happens, aside from a few of you (you know who you are) don’t come a knockin’ on my door. I won’t say “I told ya so!”, but I’m not gonna say “Sure, come on in!” either.
If this intrigues you or resonates with you and you have questions and want to learn more, by all means, send me a message. I’ll answer whatever questions I can, or direct you to someone who can if I can’t. I’ve got plenty more I could say on the topic (I could go on for hours) and am more than happy to share my knowledge with anyone interested, but there has to be a desire to learn, I’m not going to force it on anyone.
If reading through all this was a struggle and you have absolutely no interest in hearing anymore, well, thanks for at least taking the time to hear me out. I promise tomorrow will be about something else entirely so check back then. Whichever category you fall into though, thanks for reading.