Survivor

I was watching the history channel today, and I saw a very interesting show called “Strange Rituals”. This show explored all the cultures and practices that western culture would describe as ‘taboo’.

The ritual being explored on this particular program was one of experiencing and living in the wilderness.

In one part of the program, five men were stranded at sea, nearly 1,000 miles from any landmass in the very beginning. And over the next 9 months, they drifted all the way across the Atlantic ocean. They survived on almost no food whatsoever. Two of the five men died at sea.

And on the show, they had people who you could describe as experts. And one of them stated something quite profound. He claimed, “There are only two types of people. Survivors, and whiners. Survivors take control of thier situation, and survive. Whiners expect to be saved.” He talked about a plane crash that happened in the 1970’s. In this particular situation, a group of survivors decided they would stay in the jungle and wait for rescue. One girl, in high heels and a party dress, decided to leave the jungle. The group that waited for rescue died. The girl did leave the jungle, and ended up surviving.

I have to say, I agree with his claim. There really are two types of people, but I prefer to describe them as “The Victims”, and “The Survivors”.

In the particular case of the five men who were stranded at sea, the survivors described the situation in an interesting light. To live, they ate every bit of a fish they could scavenge. They ate the meat and organs raw. For liquids, they drank the blood of their catch. They did whatever they had to to survive. But the two men that died, they refused to eat. One of them tried, but just could not choke down the raw meat. He kept describing food that they would get back on land, until finally one man blurted out, “Where in the hell are we gonna get that now?”

The three men that survived had this to say, “I feel bad, because he could’ve lived. But he chose to die.”

They describe life and death as a choice. And truly, it is. The man who originally talked about survivors and whiners said that when the time truly mattered, you couldn’t choose. But I disagree. When the time truly matters, that is the ultimate time to choose. You can be a survivor when the time is not neccessary, and you can be a whiner. But, when the time does matter, you still have a choice.

And this does not apply to just life and death matters.

I talk a lot about “Dark nights of the soul”. And that is one such time when the survivors are separated from the victims.

Psychologists and scientists say the mind has no concepts of reality. When athlets are strapped to sensitive instruments designed to measure muscle movement and brain activity, there is no difference between visualizing a race, and actually running one.

As such, any stress felt by the mind is considered to be physical stress.

Anyone that has been through a dark night of the soul knows this all too well.

And in this time, there are people who shut down, who play the role of the victim, who wait to be rescued from this deep depressing pit of their life. And often, they are. But, since they were rescued, they did not learn why it happened, and as such, are doomed to repeat it.

But those who decide to survive a dark night of the soul, they learn that you can’t simply wait to be resuced by other people. They decide to grab life by the testicles, and pull themselves out of it. They make the decision to escape the dark night of the soul.

If you are stranded in a forest, all that matters is this decision. The fact that you have no tools is an excuse, if you have no medical supplies, that is simply another excuse. If you do decide to survive, you will make all of this. You will forge weapons from rocks and sticks, and you’ll make fishing nets from leaves if you have to. You’ll chase down and consume a live squirrel if you have to. You will surive, and you won’t take no for an answer. You will do whatever the hell you have to just to survive.

So the only question that remains,

Are you a survivor, or a victim?

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~ by Misuchi Sakurai on January 1, 2010.

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