Saturday, August 17, 2013

Deep Survival

Back in 2008 I wrote an article on "Survival Skills," mainly commenting on some material I had read by Laurence Gonzales in National Geographic's magazine, Adventure.  Ironically, five years later, I just finished reading his book Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why (2003).  Like so many books I read this one was picked up from my local Good Will store (the best used book store in town, I might add).  Yet it was not purchased on a whim.  I have always been very interested in the essence and art of survival.  My library has a small, but growing section on this topic, and I continue to look for those principals that inform not just outdoor survival, but the skills and mental toughness necessary to survive the ordinary rigors of regualar living.

Survival, as Gonzales outlines in his book, is as much about the mindset of surviving as it is about any techniques or equipment one possesses, probably more.  For he fleshes out his book with several survival accounts that testify to unlikely situations where a person survived despite the odds against it.  The book delves into the science and pyschology of survival, a part which may feel slow going for some readers.  However, it undergirds the subtitle of his work, namely, the question of who lives and who dies, and why.  It's not just about technique.  It's about what goes on in your mind.

The final appendix offers a nice summary of the basic principles of survival he advances throughout the book.  They are similar to those listed in my article from '08, so I won't repeat them here.  I recommend the book for all who would be interested in the inner essence of survival, an art we all must master throughout life regardless of where we live or what we do.

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