The Will to Survive

Note: I’m going to have to tackle the survival list, cool gadgets, and links to emergency kits tomorrow.

So, do you have the will to survive?

It’s still up for debate whether some of us qualify as members of “The Survivors Club” or not because we’ve yet to be properly introduced to crisis. Others of us feel like we’ve faced enough of it, thank you. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not sending out an invitation to it; I’m not that hospitable. However, I’ve had my eyes peeled and could have sworn I saw it moving in the shadows across the landscape a time or two. Each time it seemed a little closer than the last, and I’d just like to be ready for it should it decide to sneak up and barge on in without my summons.

Two years ago I purchased a book to give to a young man heading overseas with the military to serve our nation in Afghanistan. I decided that before endorsing it by passing it along, I would read it myself to be sure it made the cut. It is called The Survivors Club – The Secrets and Science that Could Save Your Life, by Ben Sherwood. I figured it would hold plenty of adventure and survival scenarios that would fit in with the kind of training someone in the military might have endured and that maybe the dramatic stories would resonate. In my opinion it was well worth the price of a new hardcover because it held my attention, got me thinking and taught me some practical lessons I have carried with me ever since.

The stories in The Survivors Club help the reader identify traits needed to overcome and even thrive when faced with life’s crises. It’s true that many people freeze, panic or go into a tailspin when trouble comes, and some talk themselves into believing that everything will be just fine, even while the unfolding drama screams to the contrary. Still others just give up. From the interviews, scientific facts and real life experiences shared in the book, I picked up some insight into my own personal likelihood for survival. I’m not one who will probably ever be noted for my bravery, but I do have a strong desire to be on the list of those who have sense enough to be aware of my surroundings and prepared for what’s to come. If I’ve learned one thing in this life it’s that reality can be harsh. Things do go wrong, and in the event of an unexpected crisis, I have to wonder, will I be able to carry with me the insight I’ve gained? I hope I never have to find out, yet I am fascinated with the challenging prospect of honing my ability to survive should I ever be faced with anything catastrophic.

The Survivors Club taps into the fascination most of us enjoy while watching others meet and conquer unfolding adventure on the big screen. It also details scientific as well as behavioral characteristics inherent in those who overcome; qualities that CAN be cultivated and strengthened, leaving the reader hopeful about their own survival possibilities. While reading, I found myself wanting to condition my potential in such a way that, when needed, I would be able to brandish more than a blunt response to a situation requiring a switchblade reaction. When life crises come, the ones who make it through will have mastered the technique of throwing the “fear switch” from “I’m going to die to I’m going to survive.”¹  They will be the ones to think counterintuitively and come away with arms raised in triumph, capable of of leading others to join them in that victory celebration.

The author weaves science and extraordinary personal survival stories in and around the tales of his time spent inside the United States military’s elite survival schools and at the government’s airplane crash evacuation course where he encountered his own dramatic adventures. The cadence of the writing engages the reader with a compelling variety of scenarios.

While I was reading the book, my teenager saw it lying on the table, picked it up and began to thumb through it and ended up reading the entire 373 pages in a few nights because they were so intriguing. We were each most dramatically affected by different survival experiences shared within, but one thing we both came away with was a newfound desire to be the kind of people who would not panic, give up or allow ourselves to become victims in the event of a disaster. We both latched onto the hope that we would be among those who who have what it takes to survive. To this day, I do not get on an airplane without calling to mind survival scenarios found within this book. It had the effect of creating an awareness within me that I did not have to quite the same degree before I read it. If you decide to read The Survivors Club, you might find yourself moving forward with sharper focus and with your senses prepared to pause and master fear in the event such action is required.

Since virtually no one goes through this life without being touched by adversity or challenge, the intrigue of these stories is that through the dramatic situations faced by others, the reader can begin to pinpoint which type of survivor they are likely to be when faced with a crisis of their own. The book also comes with a code to an online test you can take to discover your Survival IQ.

Perhaps you’d categorize yourself as one who buries their head in the sand or someone who would likely panic in an emergency or the type that gives up easily.  After reading this, you might consider anew your need and desire to boost your potential to stand up to the extremes and come out triumphant. More than likely you have the will in there somewhere. If that will is looking dull, dusty or seems a little weak, this book just might prompt you to polish it up and start working on the choices that will create survival muscles capable of dominating that crisis that just might be sneaking up one shadow at a time, inching closer by the day.

and don’t look now but…

¹ Dr. Joseph LeDoux, page 210, The Survivors Club