You Don't Know What You Don't Know...
The next in a series of "I'm Doomed: A Laugh Out Loud Guide to Practical Prepping."
I was a terrible boy scout, unprepared, naive, and frankly a clutz. My mind was awash with visions of grand adventure, moving from one scenario to the next, most nestled in fantasy and all out of the realms of possibility. I challenged the beasts of the forests, built great treetop villages and roasted whole legs of meat over an open flame, all before breakfast and without leaving the comfort of my mind, or the parking lot. Resistant to change, including my clothes, at age 12 my prospects for learning were weak. Since then, things have changed, I now change my clothes regularly.
As you cruise the Internet, your favorite magazines, and whatever book was recommended highly this week on Amazon, you will find many different lists and opinions on what is the most important prep. Gas mask wearing survivalists will throw out weaponry, rations, filters, tactical gear, and claim it all has to be stored in a specific order for proper preparedness. Truth be told the gas mask is not a prep for a disaster or catastrophe, but rather a necessity from all the MREs and survivalist sawdust ration recipes creating methane in the bowels. Like them, I have my own opinions and it starts with something you can't purchase. The most important prep in my view is your health, mental and physical.
It kills me to watch or read about individuals who have a stockpile of guns and ammunition, a 10-year supply of food and they couldn't jog to the end of the block to save their life. Now I don't wish to be harsh but the simple fact is if you are not in good health and the “ship hits the dock”, not only are you going to have a difficult time but you will probably make life difficult for those around you. Many of us have ailments which keep us from being 100% at any given time, and that's okay. Being 100%, and giving 100% are two totally different things, the latter is what makes the difference.
Let's start off with our mental health, this includes spiritual. Every day I take a few moments to ponder what I'm doing as a father, as a husband, as a friend, along with all the other roles in my life. What can I do to improve in these areas? It doesn't have to be some great world-altering action undertaken over the next decade costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. Big changes are made in small increments. By changing our path a couple of degrees over the long haul we end up an entirely different destination. Mental and spiritual health, in my opinion, are best nurtured and progressed through reflection and small changes.
Change moves us from our comfort zone to our learning zone. We can’t broaden our minds and spirits by simply repeating past habits. Our habits, beliefs, and feelings toward various ideas need to be challenged to grow. Challenges are like nourishment, think of weight lifting. You stretch and challenge a muscle, and as you do, it strengthens and grows. The same is true of the mind, if you want to prepare for the chaos of the unknown, be it a pandemic or a flood, you have to train in chaos and the unknown.
I know what you're thinking, especially if you know me. You are questioning my mental health, and that's okay. That's not the kind of mental health I'm talking about. It's okay if you're completely loony, as long as you're happy and know which buttons to push to make yourself do what needs to be done. As funny as that sounds you would be surprised how many people don't know how to “flip that switch” from something as simple as mowing the lawn to a problem as complex as overcoming a phobia such as the fear of heights. If you were put in a situation where you had to overcome a fear or a procrastination, could you? I'm a big believer in teaching one's self to make small corrections on a daily basis. Again, I am not striving for perfection, merely an attitude of learning, growth, and happiness.
Our physical health is every bit as important. You don't need to be a world-class athlete, but you do need to be able to take care of yourself, you should be in good enough health that you can take care of someone else. Daily exercise, stretching, walking, and a healthy diet is a huge step in the right direction. Even at my heaviest of 305 pounds, I was still capable of hiking 20 to 25 miles in a day. I have since made corrections to my diet and exercise and have dropped to a slender 245, and I feel great. It isn't always about the weight is my point. I have relatives and friends that at first glance would look out of shape, you would be sadly mistaken if you are ever to challenge their endurance. As with our mental health, physical health comes down to small changes made on a daily basis. Reflection, as well as trial and error, lead us to what works best in our lives and for our body types. Small challenges and changes each day create a better us than yesterday.
Part of our health is knowing our limitations. I have been fortunate and have no ailments which require medication. I do know myself well enough to know that I need my daily vitamins to keep my mind and body functioning at peak performance. While not as important as life-saving medications, I do have a store of the necessary vitamins and medications for my family to get us through a short trial if needed. Again, based on what incident or catastrophe is probable in my area. We make corrections to our world (physical environment) to compensate for any need we or our family and community members may require to keep us safe and prepared. Medications can be stocked, those meds requiring refrigeration may need a backup plan if the grid goes down.
My older brother was paralyzed in an accident when he was quite young. His requirements for meds and supplies differed quite a bit from what I would need. His ability to maneuver and “bug out” should an earthquake or flood make his home unlivable were vastly different from mine. With a little challenge, he was able to prepare for such a need.
Again, we aren’t talking Zombie Apocalypse, that’s a great read and a lot of fun on the X-Box. In the real-world power goes out in ice storms, floods take out water and spread sewage, sanitation strikes leave refuse on the curb for weeks at a time. There are plenty of real-world scenarios where you will need to be fit and have 3 days to a month’s worth of food and water. Floods devastate areas for months before homeowners can return and rebuild. Prepping doesn’t need to interrupt your life more than your bi-annual trip to the dentist, your mind and body are your greatest asset. Embrace change, learn, and challenge yourself.
Read the rest of the series "I'm Doomed: A Laugh Out Loud Guide to Practical Prepping."