Prepping and Reality
When I was a kid in high school, I discovered Hubbert's theory of peak oil, and promptly understood that before I was able to get to college the world I knew would cease to function. Cars would stop driving, groceries shelves would empty, and my nowhere town would soon devolve into dog-eat-dogness and what not. I filled bottles with water and kept them in my closet, next to an old 12 gauge I kept loaded, and daily checked the survival blogs to see if the sky was falling tomorrow, or next month. It was almost always "in the next year or two".
In college, I had a good friend I went I went on a late night stroll with. I had an army rucksack packed with a small box of fishing gear, a small sleeping bag, a few MREs, and some other small knick knacks I no longer recall. My brilliant plan was that, upon announcement of "SHTF", I'd pick up my pack and head out into the Arkansas wilderness, living off the land, living out of caves, and all n all just being that good ole kind of forest mongrel. The very definition of a life to strive towards.
I tell that hoping it'll be halfway amusing, and also knowing that some of those ideas are not completely atypical of those who find sites like this (though I think this paticular one's more reality-based than others I've stumbled across). I was drawn to sites like this because of a sense of pessimism and skepticism about how the world works, and now I'm developing a growing skepticism about if the sky is falling, if it is, how hard, and whether it will be next year or in the next decade.
I'd like to offer a conversation on reality, moderation, and taking things with a grain of salt, whether they're said by the lamestream media or James Wesley Rawles.
For my part, I've gone from waiting to be the Crocodile Dundee of the Ozarks to training to be a cop, and working police while finishing my degree. Whether the sky falls next year or next decade, it's a path I'm happy with and see a future in. I'd like to chat about what reality means to you, and what optimism means to you.
Joining a gang is a good way to prepare for SHTF and it seems like you joined the biggest gang around.
I think being in with the cops is a win win situation. If things continue as is you have a potential career in a field that adds value to society. If SHTF you will be in tight with the group most likely to organize some sort of civilization in your community.
I take a similar approach.
I learn about firearms so I can defend myself against potential criminal activity, but it is also a nice hobby – sort of a substitute for golf with many of the same concentration requirements.
I eat a lot of survival foods like rice and beans and vegetables so that I will not have digestive problems if I have to live off stored food. However, at the same time this semi-vegan diet has helped me to drop several pounds and take 30 points of my cholesterol score. I was inspired by seeing Chris do even more.
I decided that I would drop dead from hard work or be beaten to death by predators in a SHTF scenario so I started to do some strength training. If there never is a scenario I still will be a lot better off due to the health benefits of exercise.
With the economy crashing how will I afford the cost of health care as I age. The above items will keep me healthier than without them and this will reduce the cost of health care down the road.
Like they say, expect the best but plan for the worst.
I may be a crazy fanatic, but everything I do has a dual use and worrying about SHTF serves as a motivation to do these things that I should be doing anyway even if the future is rosy.
Good topic, FAlley. You’re at crusing altitude now. Good for you. Here is how it went for me.
My journey was longer than yours, and in two parts. Part One happened in the 70s–for context, I graduated high school in 1973–when I saw that modern agricultural practices and the growing population bomb were unsustainable. Moreover, to put it mildly we were not handing our waste stream intelligently. I understood the “E” for Environment. And as organisms became resistant to our meddling (germs, weeds, insects) I could increasingly see that this would not end well. I tried to structure my life accordingly. I gardened organically, totally restructured my diet, recycled, and supported green causes – all the while knowing I was in the minority and that we were headed for a cliff. But I changed my lifestyle as best I could and moved on from there.
The “E” for Economy was also something I understood early on. America went off the gold standard when I was a teen, and we were emeshed with other currencies that were also fiat-based. I understood, even then, that fiat currencies do not end well and watched wth alarm as the USA ran up big debts. I was horrified to see my fellow baby boomers use up more than their share, and scorned their blind belief that we–who were merely the Last Man Standing after WWII–were in their opinion entitled to all this as if it were the divine right of kings. When the European Union was born, the flaws in its financial union were obvious to me. Again, I saw that this could not end well. I tried to structure my life accordingly. I was fiscally responsible, got out of debt, avoided conspicuous consumption, and tried not to follow the lemmings into a “popular” career. Getting a degree & career, and getting debt free were choices which took years of daily, sustained effort.
But when Dr. Martenson explained the final “E” of Energy to me, that’s when I had my personal Minsky moment. In 2009 I had just moved to SC from NY because I could see the entire financal system was unstable, and I found this site. I watched the Crash Course. I understoood the “E” of energy. That’s when I really took the red pill.
Within two years I was a prepped as I could get us, energy-wise. And then I started to burn out. I’m surprised it took this long, considering my Three “E”s journey started around the time I graduated high school. But–to use the analogy of a jet taking off–all it meant was the “climbing to altitiude” was over, and now I needed to coast at cruising altitude again.
Jets use up most of their fuel getting to crusing altitude, and are not meant to sustain the burn of gettng to that point. My first panicked reaction to the crash course can be likened to a jet climbing: I burned through a lot of money, emotional energy, and time. But now things are the best I can get them, and I can chip away at the rest. At this point–what I call cruising speed– like you, I go on with my life, ready for whatever threats I see coming but not frantic. And all the things I am doing are good for me anyhow: I spend less on electricity, heat, water, and gasoline.
“…everything I do has a dual use and worrying about SHTF serves as a motivation to do these things that I should be doing anyway even if the future is rosy.” – joesxm2011
Agreed, and that’s the point. Whether or not I am forced to grow things to survive, I can have fresh vegetables and fruit, and gardening for me is a pleasure and a means of exercise. Whether or not the grid goes down my few solar panels are enough to charge our cell phones, a laptop, and our rechargable AA & AAA batteries: in a power outage from a storm that will be huge. Whether or not hyperinflation rears its ugly head, I can live off my larder if my car needs major repairs or I have a dental emergency. I can add to my sustainable lifestyle little by little.
So it’s not a matter of burnout, it’s a matter of reaching crusing altitude. The initial panic and shock of taking ther red pill is not sustainable. That’s okay. Once you realize that things need to change you can reach a new equilibrum. Sounds like you’ve done that, FAlley, and I applaud you.
Thanks for your story and for the interesting questions at the end of your post.
In brief, it took an embarrassingly long time for me to “get” all of the 3-Es – embarrassing because I was raised off-grid, (no TV) and home schooled and didn’t get as much “lamestream” indoctrination as most. I was keenly aware of the Environment because my life was outdoors and TPTB were busy cutting down old-growth forests around and about. The foundation of my 3-E journey was love of our homeworld. Economy was obviously too stupid to pay any attention to, and Energy was Big Oil, aka evil incarnate. I got busy surviving in the Economy and conducting a green-ish city life. Finally, in my 40’s, I wondered “What do they mean, peak oil?” and dove into 4 years of self-directed research. The old worldview will never recover, and my life is heading where I always wanted it to – back to the land.
So much for history. I’d also “…like to chat about what reality means to you, and what optimism means to you.”
Long before the red pill, the daily connection with land under threat that childhood gifted me with had already insisted I find communities and methods to handle deep emotions like grief, outrage, rage, fear, confusion and always, under everything, love. Even without the 3-E information, my spirit was laying an informational foundation for me. It said: “Whatever else you will be told, buried under every state of mind is a very large love for everything.”
It became apparent that my inner eye saw differently than my culture’s, and I decided to use mine. What I call reality is invisible to everyday awareness. Perception of it is always accompanied by powerful experiences of big love. Getting to it requires paying enough attention to emotional/mental states to let tensions/confusions there become conscious and lose their lockdown on perception. The company of like-minded humans and of the planet herself make this process possible, makes this process sing. Reality, meaning where and what we are (a fabulous species here together on a magnificent planet flying through space, for crying out loud!) starts to register. The orientation of my soul to all of this shows itself. I sing a lot. I want the reality of this planet – its waters, winds, its glorious rock masses and life forms – to sink deep into me while I’m here in a body to experience them. I want the gift of a human lifespan to sink in too. Right now I am listening to a gorgeous track invented by some exquisitely inspired human on the Internet invented by some other fairly talented humans. There just might be something about us to savor! It’s also messy. I cry and howl a lot when looking around at what’s happening here. This seeing, this grieving, this grappling with confusion and despair, and this celebration of what is anyway are my contribution to the emotional work of the waking of my species. I come out of it with more inner capacity to face more of everything, of an arduous, tender, beautiful reality that, terrifying aspects notwithstanding, my soul doesn’t stop loving.
Maybe you meant reality as in “Has anyone nailed down just when and if TS will HTF?” Well, now and later is all I can say. All the 3-E and other physical realities seem pretty “real” and impactful. I’m learning to grow food, developing community and so on as fast as I can. Averting as much “dog-eat-dogness” as possible apparently requires my action now. Learning to live within the budget of the land is what I always wanted for my species anyway. Let’s go.
Regarding the mental state of optimism, I don’t worry too much about it. The future is unknowable. Honestly, it’s a big universe. What do I know about it? That’s kind of scary/exciting, but I can’t tell you or me it’s going to be alright. It isn’t alright for billions at this very moment. I can’t get to optimism by looking outside for proof that things will work out. If I’m feeling hopeless or scared it’s time to pay some healing attention to my emotions. They cannot come to balance without my care. Then it might be time to let the wealth of beauty and function that surrounds me sink in, whether it’s the kindness of the people I love, the ridiculous joy of the neighbor’s dog, the screaming orange maples down the road or the slate-black winter storm blowing in across the lake from the alpine. The need to feel optimistic about the future is bowled over and fulfilled by recognition and appreciation of what is now and of what has been for so long.
Ah jeesh. I let the fire go out! Longwinded today. It’s past time to sand some drywall, sadly also part of my reality….
Thanks for a fun thread and best luck with all your choices.
When I was little, I didn’t really love swimming in a cold pool. But the worst was getting pushed or thrown in by my dad or older brother when I wasn’t ready (water up my nose, in my mouth, etc…). So whenever I was by the pool and spotted a threatening glance from my dad or brother, I would simply jump in on my own accord. At the very least, I wanted control.
I see a similar fear/discomfort/control trade-off in people who talk about heading into the woods with a fishing pole and a warm coat looking to live off the land. The difference is that many of these people really love the outdoors – where as I hated the cold pool.
I’m not sure I’m making a real point here, but I think I’m trying to tell people to live the way THEY want to live for as long as they are able. Fight back when something negative approaches. There is no need to make drastic life changes. Getting solar panels, reducing debt, building community, storing some tools and food… These are not drastic life changes. Throwing away your entire lifestyle for life in the woods IS a drastic change.
Be prepared to get thrown into the pool, but don’t jump in unless YOU want to swim.
Well I went from having the “perfect” twentry acre passive solar homestead in a nearly ideal location In Ontario Canada that I purchased/ built when I was barely 30 years old, to being forced to sell it because of illness just two years before becoming fully aware of the “mess”. But I have since learned to accept that things are not always within our ability to control. And just as significantly I have come to realise that what matters most is that we try to live our lives without being trapped by fear and regret. So I am thankful to have learned this life lesson and I have learned to grateful for what I have. And especially that I have regained my health.
It seems to me that whatever we do it is really about people and relationships. So I believe that the most important thing is to know who you are. But becoming a prepper is not who I am (but thanks to PP and other sources I have taken steps to protect what financial assets I do have) so I assume that when the SHTF I will likey be among the magority who will simply have to manage to do the best they can wherever they find themselves. But with the awareness that I do have I choose not to live in a large urban center and I will try to find some kind of community, and hopefully a way to make a positive contribution somewhere or somehow. But most importantly to try to live my life always with integrity and compassion for others.
(Taken from Willie P Bennett, The Lucky Ones)
Oh, the lucky ones
who never stumble and fall
They don’t know nothin at all
Nice thoughts from everyone, and extra kudos to Safewrite, who has eloquently described what I think is the state of affairs most of us are aspiring to achieve. Key to it all is living with integrity.
I have for the past few years been climbing to altitude, to borrow the analogy, and feel like I am close to cruising speed. What that means for me is simply a sense of contentment that I can go about my day to day life, confident of my abilitites and plans to weather various scenarios, whatever the world might throw at me. That enables me to live largely without stress. I am pilot of my plane. I have done the work, and I am just about ready to shift to maintaining altitude; I will keep staying in touch with reality, but not be all consumed by it; I will enjoy the simple life that I have developed.
As with all things in life, it is about balance. Too much of anything disrupts the balance – whether it is too much golf or drinking or gambling or doom and gloom preparations. It has to be kept in perspective. There is nothing wrong with hedging your bets and doing some preparation in case things go south – I wish more people would! But don’t let it become the be all end all of your existence to the point that you burn out. After all, the point of life is to try to enjoy the journey as best as we can. And to do so with integrity, and responsibility for those generations who will follow us.
Truthfully and with all sincerity my whole life has prepared me for these times, and what may or may not occur. My only fear is that I do not measure up to those who proceeded me or fail in protecting my Lady from harm. My Grandfather who came to this country with his brother as the rest of his family were murdered during the Turkish genocide on the Armenian people. My Grandmother escape the potato famine in Ireland to make a new life in America. My Father and Mother lived through the Great Depression and World War ll. They raised 13 children, and I am not going to fail honorably what may come.
I believe the human spirit is a seriously strong, DNA structured one. I do believe that we will figure this thing out, that it will be messy at times but will be managed. I look forward to every day of my life in good spirit, and am committed to understanding, researching and reading everything that I can. I love every minute of this, and am so thankful I have this in my life as I speak. It is great fun frankly.
I am a realist too, and understand all to well that there are bad people too, and have prepared to meet that head on as necessary. My hope is that I be left alone and live peaceably.
hah – you just gave the perfect analogy for illustrating why people SHOULD change their lifestyles, because it is better to do so by choice rather that by force. ‘at very least i wanted control’? – then you flipped!
…it was all very eloquent
I take more of a centrist approach, i.e. live in today’s world, plan for tomorrow’s “reasonable” world. Throughout the process, I have picked up new hobbies, eat much better quality food, and enjoy life more. Unfortunately, I’m still way too urban in case of complete financial or govt meltdown, don’t have a “gang”, hell I don’t even have any friends :), and still somewhat dependent on societal comforts such as electricity, water, and other convienences. We’ll survive fine through a short term disruption, but long term… If the complete meltdown happens, then the real important question comes to play, is that a society that I want to participate in. The Bosnian Blog was extremely eye opening and altogether frightening. The survivors were required to do some pretty awful things just to survive. While this was going on, the US and other countries were trying to help in their internal civil war. Who will come to the US help? Even more importantly, if the US is in trouble, the odds are highly likely the rest of the world will be in worse shape.
Cave dwelling, killing and/or eating neighbors, becoming more violent then someone else just to survive… I hope it doesn’t get to that point, but following potential paths as a result of Chris’s teachings leads me to complete anarchy.