Monday, August 9, 2010

Survival 101

For some reason lately, I've been really into survival shows. I don't know why - they're just interesting to me. The two I'm watching right now are Dual Survival and Man Woman Wild, both of which are Discovery Channel shows. Their premises are similar in that the people on the show are dropped into some sort of survival scenario with only a few supplies to help them and the goal is to reach civilization or be rescued. But each show has a different spin on how to present the information. Dual Survival is about two guys who have totally different survivalist backgrounds - one is a former Army sniper and Special Reaction Team instructor and the other is a hippy-ish minimalist who doesn't wear shoes, regardless of the climate they're dropped off in. They use their different skills to get out of the situation together. And Man Woman Wild is about a husband and wife team - he is a former Special Forces survival expert and she is a British news reporter. So the show is basically him teaching her what she needs to know in each of the survival scenarios they are placed in. And I can't help it . . . I'm a sucker for both shows.

One of my favorite things about these programs is getting to guess what I would do in each situation that the hosts are placed in. Part of me thinks that I could survive using the skills I am undoubtedly learning from shows like these. But the more realistic part of me knows that I would be dead within days - well, maybe hours - of the survival experience. And chances are I'd die in one of three ways . . .

1. My survival partner would kill me.

Both of these shows start out the same: the hosts are left stranded in a situation that a normal person might find himself in. Maybe they were on a safari and their jeep broke down in the middle of the jungle. Maybe they were on a ship that sank and they find themselves floating in the waters off of Novia Scotia in a lifeboat. Or maybe they were backpacking the mountains of New Zealand and got lost. Whatever the situation, these hosts handle the realization that they are stranded extraordinarily well. They simply take an inventory of the supplies they have in their backpacks or boats or cars or whatever they have and then they adapt to the situation.

Not I.

The moment I realize that I'm lost in the waters of Nova Scotia or in the jungles of Africa, I'm going to start to crying. And not just like a sweet, soft kind of cry that might make you say something comforting like "Don't worry, sweetie - you're gonna be alright." No. I'm going to wail. Then I'd check my cell phone to see if I had any service and when I realized that I didn't, I'd start hyperventilating. And crying louder . . . like a snotty, loud blubbering that will make you want to drown me so that you can survive in peace. So chances are that I'd meet my end pretty quickly upon being lost.

But if THAT didn't kill me, then . . .

2. I'd starve.

On both of these shows, they eat things that make me gag just sitting here in my living room. I've seen them eat ants, bugs, and rodents and I just couldn't do it. On one episode of Dual Survival one of the guys was eating something he called a Hoo Hoo Grub and he was talking about how nutritious they are.

Seriously? A Hoo Hoo Grub?

I could never eat them because, frankly, they sound like an STD. Now if they were Ho Ho Grubs, I could do it because, as you know, the Ho Ho is the distant cousin of the Swiss Cake Roll. But a Hoo Hoo grub? Absolutely not. If my survival depends on me eating grubs, I'm going to die. They'll find my body shriveled up from hunger . . . but they'll find no Hoo Hoo Grub bits in THESE teeth.

But if a Ho Ho/Swiss Cake Roll grub got me through the starvation, then . . .

3. I'd die of fear.

On Man Woman Wild recently, they were in the African jungle. It was late and the man and wife were taking turns sleeping. While the wife was doing her turn as the lookout, she heard a menacing growling in the bushes nearby. She calmly woke her husband up and they had to sit there in the dark and wait to be attacked.

Nope. No way.

Look - I don't even like to go outside in my backyard when it's dark because if I hear a noise in the bushes, I'm paralyzed with fear. And if, God forbid, a cat or raccoon comes running out from BEHIND the bush, I'm done. I'll come back in the house, collapse on the couch still shaking, and call everyone I know to tell them about my harrowing night. My friends would all tell me how scary that situation was and how courageous I was to live through it and share my story with others. And then I'd blog about it.

This is not what survivalists are made of, friends.

But even though I know that my survival experience would come to a sudden and whiny end, I keep watching these survivalist experts do their things. Why? Because it's interesting. Because it's inspiring. Because maybe, just MAYBE, I can learn something from them that I can use one day.

You know, in case I ever find myself stranded in the Brazilian rainforest with just a backpack and a Ho Ho Grub.