I debated long and hard on where to start this journey. Should I begin talking about water, or shelter, or jump right into the fire, with…fire? I thought about digging into the subject of gear, and giving my $0.02 on certain essential items.
I thought about this at work, I thought about this off duty. I thought about this at the gym, and on the running trails. I thought about this where I do my very best thinking…(no, not the bathroom, but good guess), around the campfire during the July 4th weekend, while the firefly’s put on their own show.
And it hit me. As I enjoyed the warmth of my fire, surrounded by the stillness of the night, and the calmness of the trees that surround me. Mental attitude. Of course.
Being a Marine, and a Firefighter/EMT, first thing we do when called to action, heck, the moment we start a new day, is get our heads right. This is crucial. It’s sets up the foundation of how our day, or shift is going to go. We make this conscious decision that today we will do our best, that we will learn something new, and do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done. We will NOT accept failure, we will not quit.
So, there it is. Lesson #1: get your head right.
Make a conscious decision that you ARE a survivor, that you WILL survive. Realize that even though you may not currently have all the skills you want, or need to possess to competently accomplish this today, you will make it a point to learn, and do something today that you will take with you forever. Commit to this. Buy into the idea. Live it. Breathe it.
Don’t expect to master this in one fell swoop because you feel inspired by this, or some other message you heard somewhere else. Getting your head right takes time. It takes a little exposure EACH day to doing something you know you should to better yourself, but just don’t feel like doing for whatever reason. That’s the key. Take for example the Navy SEALs, CAG (Delta), or Marine RECON bubbas. Why are they so tough? Why do they succeed where others might fail? How do they endure what it is they endure? Mental toughness. Mental conditioning. This takes dedication, time and effort to accomplish. It takes training, specifically, training in adverse conditions, so that when you are faced with a similar condition, while difficult, it isn’t totally foreign to you.
“Embrace the suck”, we used to say. Survival isn’t a weak man’s (or woman’s) game. Start doing things you just don’t want to do, but that you know you need to do or should do, to be tougher. Do it on less sleep. Do it on no sleep. Run in the cold. Run in the heat. 10 pushups when you roll out of bed before you rub your eyes and stretch. Reading a boring manual on dehydration. Going for that 3 mile run after work when you had an absolute shit day, and just wanna go home and crack a cold one, and become one with the couch. Little decisions that on the surface seem trivial, but are teaching and conditioning your brain, body, and spirit to function under stress and fatigue.
Getting your head right is a PROCESS. But baby steps, till you finally do that 2 day hike you swore you would do, take that survival course, or tackle that 13 hour/10mile cold water GORUCK Special Forces endurance event with a 35lb pack (ABSOC). Whatever. You just have to realize and believe that you are tougher, that your body and mind are tougher, than you ever gave them credit for. You will pass out before you die. Words to live by.
I heard a quote once, went like this: “When you get to the point that you want something as bad as you want to breathe, you will find a way”.
So breathe. Survive.