What does an double bird shooting accountant that was dragged to Survival 101 class know?
That she can overcome pain, adversity, push through physical and emotional barriers, find support in her loved ones, and accomplish something she didn’t think she could do.
Kerrie : “I can’t believe I did that”
Me: “I knew you could”
Sitting in 44 degree water after a 28 degree night in a survival shelter borders on crazy. Every fiber in your body screams, you start gasping as the cold water steals your breath, your mind seeks excuses to get out, your thinking becomes cloudy, and you question why you are sitting in a cold creek in the mid of winter shivering with your classmates.
And then it happens. You dig deep. You tame your breath. You find your reason for living. You focus your mind. And then you shoot your instructor the double bird.
And while the double bird was directed at me, it was really aimed at fear… pain.. self-doubt… social stigmas… and death itself.
Not everyone’s experience in the Creek drill is the same, but I highlight Kerrie’s because I watched her crush all those demons that day. I watched her go from inexperienced to being able to save her life and others under physical, mental, and emotional stress. Cold, wet, shivering, and confused, she was able to gather material to build a life-saving fire, a skill that very few possess nowadays.
This weekend I will be training another cast member for Naked & Afraid.
It, like all the other shows, are an illusion of reality. Reality doesn’t play fair, impose rules, or have an emergency crew on standby.
Reality knocks you out of your boat into icy cold water, like Craig Strickland and Chase Morland stealing you from your beautiful wife and family.
Reality soaks you and your children on a cold, dark night like David Decareaux and his two boys ripping you from the lives of your other children and loving wife.
Reality is the nighttime callout my SAR team got for a busted leg on an icy trail New Years day.
Reality will crash your car, dehydrate you, make your throat swell shut from a bee sting, and a whole load of other nasties.
Reality, inspired by these heart-breaking stories, also allows us to accept the ultimate responsibility for ourselves and family and do something about it. It allows us to prepare our bodies and minds in the safety of a training environment or at home.
It allows us to train our mindset, like Kerrie..
It allows us to train our skills like Team Dirty Water..
And it allows us to choose the right gear, like Josh..
In our comfortable world it is easy to forget that the forces of calamity lurk in the shadows. It is also easy to forget that we alone have the responsibility and power to to fight them, alone if necessary.
As I type this, I look out the window at the snow falling. It is 18 degrees and I am about to head out the door to work outside.
Natural law is hard at work. The icy cold, the bone chilling wind, the never ending assaults on my body’s warmth.
I imagine in Kerrie’s office however, it is warm and cozy. Her co-workers chat about the latest news while sipping mugs of coffee. Removed and oblivious to the dangers outside, the keyboards click away and the phones ring. At the end of the day when they emerge from their office it will be a hasty walk to the car. As the bitter cold attacks them, there will be a deep, primal reminder of their vulnerability.
There is however, one amongst them that needs no reminder.
Maybe she walks a little slower, soaking in the elements as they launch their onslaught to her comfort.
Maybe she smiles confidently knowing she has endured much worse and found untapped sources of strength.
Maybe she cranks out the defiant, double bird in the face of anything, and everything, that would try to take her life…
P.S. – Moms that get survival books from their boy and read it in cold water rock!!