by Todd Walker
Sweat and a little blood dripped from my lip. July heat pounded both young pugilists. The ‘ring’ was outlined by a few buddies, three high school aged instigators, and my sister. Under that tall Georgia pine tree used mostly for knife throwing is where I received a valuable life lesson. Roscoe, one of the ‘elders’ of the group, had a nose that looked to have been broken more than once as a boxer and in fist fights. I’d never worn boxing gloves in my life. But Roscoe was in my corner.
After two non-timed rounds, more blood appeared on my prepubescent chest. It was clear to Roscoe and the rest of the cheering crazies that I would lose. I wanted Roscoe to throw in the towel. Only there wasn’t any towels to throw – only pine cones and sticks.
Growing up on the farm with a sister, brother, three boy cousins (all of us within 5 years of each other), and a steady stream of buddies, I’d been both the recipient and deliverer of fine country beat downs. But this was different. It was ‘sanctioned’ and civilized. Plus, I had Roscoe on my side.
The boxing techniques he taught me on the fly helped me score a technical knockout in the third round (my cousin quit – plus it was almost dinner time). What I remember most about that day is when Roscoe said to me…
“You gotta keep fighting boy… and then you gotta win.”
These simple words uttered in round two gave me hope. The fight turned. If Roscoe believed I could win, I’d better win. My cousin was only a few months older than me but bigger. The odds makers had me beat in the first, second round at most. When the spectators bet sodas and smokes against me, they had no way of knowing Roscoe’s words or how I’d respond.
His reputation as a fighter was well-known in the county. But motivational, wise words were never his strength. He was a simple country boy who live up the dirt road from me. Had he only told me to keep fighting, I would have taken a fall to get out of the ‘ring’. Whether he really believed I could win or not doesn’t matter. His words gave me the edge.
Fight to win
How do I apply Roscoe’s lesson to preparedness? It’s simple, not easy. Fight to win.
To handle life’s fights, I recommend developing a game plan, fundamentals, knowledge, and resilience.
A.) Game plan. Ask “why” to begin. The part of our brain that asks why must be satisfied. I see lots of people trying to figure out “how” to survive SHTF events before settling the “why” issue. They may have a gut feeling that tells them to get ready for the coming collapse. This gut feeling is the limbic system in your brain telling you to take action. This part of your brain is non-verbal. For instance, you’ve probably been in a situation where you get this feeling that you need to leave ASAP. You can’t explain the reason. You just know that you need to get out of there fast. Listen and to this sixth sense, God’s voice, or whatever label you choose. This adaptation in our brain was passed down to our species to ensure survival.
I grew up prepping and didn’t even realize that’s what I was doing. Five years ago, I had a gut feeling that I needed to take my preparedness more seriously. I couldn’t put it into words, I just knew. As crazy as this may sound, I use to be very goal driven. The problem with goals is that once you reach the goal, that’s it. The goal of being prepared is dynamic, always changing with our situations. Instead of goals, I now focus on themes. My theme is to be as prepared as my resources (physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual) will allow and help as many people as possible on the way. Don’t get caught up in reaching goals as a mark of success. Make preparedness and self-reliance your theme. It’s less pressure than goals. A theme of preparedness becomes a lifestyle.
B.) Fundamentals. Doing the stuff. When I coached high school football, we practiced fundamentals each day. How fundamental? Breaking down each step for a drive block, trap, or pulling guard became redundant. No matter how I tried to spice it up, my offensive linemen hated the ten minutes. Not because it was taxing physically, but it was just plain boring after the first week of the season. They we’re thankful at the end of the season when they won a championship. Winners practice fundamentals.
Preppers should too.
- Practice the lifestyle. We’re not all able to devote large blocks of time to preparedness. We’ve got families, friends, work, and responsibilities. How do we carve out dedicated times to practice? We give time to what’s important to us. I catch myself doing the stuff even when it’s not “practice time.” It’s repetitive. It becomes a habit. Eventually it becomes instinctive. We practice fundamentals so we don’t have to think, we just do.
- Dirty mindset training. Your job is to survival. On my parent’s 12th wedding anniversary, my daddy came home from work with a dozen red roses to find my mom knee-deep in mud birthing piglets. The sow was struggling. Without hesitation, Mama jumped in the mud and started pulling piglets. Several lives depended on her getting dirty. Training our mind to do whatever it takes to get the job done could mean the difference in survival. Divas and pre-madonnas need not apply.
- Practice your technique. Methods of survival are many. What will matter in crazy times is your technique. There are correct movements for every sport. I remember one kid I coached that had what experts considered terrible fundamentals. I stopped trying to correct his “flawed” technique after seeing his results. I told him to keep doing what worked for him. Don’t fix what’s not broken. Your unorthodox grip on your handgun doesn’t matter if you’re able to hit your target.
C.) Knowledge. I’m constantly amazed at the flood of free information available online. There’s absolutely no valid excuse for not building knowledge. Then there are books, videos, and audio. The number of DIY, survival themed novels, and self-reliant books could easily fill Michigan’s football stadium. Balancing information overload is the trick for most of us. Don’t let Heinlein’s quote derail your quest for deeper specific knowledge. Your specialty probably puts food on the table and clothes on your back. Embrace it. Develop it.
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
-Robert A. Heinlein
Break your tunnel vision. “Deep and wide, deep and wide…” was a song we sang in Sunday School growing up. In prepping, build knowledge that is specific (deep) and general (wide). I have a wide interest that ranges from art to Austrian economics. History to primitive hand tools. Blogging to slingshots. Take a break from going deep in your specialty and read stuff that’s unrelated but interesting to you. Ideas begin to intersect.
The doctor explained DRG’s radiation treatment this way. I was worried about how radiation might scorch the healthy part of her brain as it passed through on the way to the tumor. He drew a picture of a bicycle rim on a paper towel pulled from over the sink in the exam room. I know, you’d think he could find a sheet of paper. I digress. The laser shoots a very weak dose of radiation through her brain across the tumor at different angles. Each dose meets at an intersection where the growth is located. With every angle, the radiation intensifies to critical mass, zapping the cancer. It creates a devastating, multi-car pile up of cancer destruction.
Each spoke we add to our “wide” knowledge only intensifies our “deep” knowledge. Go deep and wide.
And yes Mr. Heinlein, I’ve done 17 out of the 21. I hope to wait a while for the last one.
D.) Resilience. A college buddy of mine, Scott Rigsby, set a world record at the Hawaiian Ironman by being the first to finish an Olympic distance triathlon …with no legs! Click here to get a taste of his story. He did the unthinkable.
We all deal with life changing set backs or personal SHTF events. Depending on your mindset, these challenges could make you stronger. Stronger is good.
One study suggest that resilience plays a positive role in everyday life. We don’t really need a study for this do we? But here it is…
Research data shows that students who are more resilient, 20% of those surveyed, are more satisfied with their lives and are also those who believe they have control over their emotions and their state of mind. Resilience therefore has a positive prediction effect on the level of satisfaction with one’s life.
Fall forward. Embrace failure – even with a bloody lip. You’re not going to like it. It’s painful, but doesn’t have to be final. Here are a few tips for flexing your resilient muscle.
- Take care of yourself. If you’re like me, stressful situations pull me towards poor choices. This is the exact time I need to exercise, eat right, and get enough rest and sleep. Like right now, I’m writing this article and should be out running.
- Picture your future. Make time to relax and refuel. Some meditate, do yoga, pray, or play outdoors. Whatever works for you. I like to get in my shop and “piddle” as DRG calls it. It takes my mind off of pressing issues when I work with my hands to create something.
- Limit crappy people. Some time you don’t have much choice in who you’re around. Working with one crappy, negative person drains you and weakens your resilience. Connect with people who encourage and motivate you. Do the same for them. It’s like a person standing on a cliff trying to pull someone to safety. The negative dangler is more likely to pull you down than you are to pull them up. Let go of the relationship and guard your sanity. It’s hard to fight gravity.
You see, Roscoe inspired me, taught me technique, and added resilience to my life when he said, “You gotta keep fighting boy, and then you gotta win.” I hope you win! How can I help?
Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,
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