A character in one of my recent novels is a survival expert. In order to write the story, I read tons of true-life stories about people who’d overcome nearly impossible odds in the wilderness, or at sea, or in encounters with wild life, or violent criminals.
Each survivor used a combination of clear-thinking, ingenuity, self awareness, and an ability to listen to that inner voice that somehow warns us of danger even when our conscious mind does not recognize it.
But the quality that struck me most in every survivor’s story was the refusal to give up and accept the dire circumstances.
- A guy spent over 70 days adrift in the Atlantic ocean. He collected water in a makeshift plastic still and ate the few fish he could catch. A shark attack left a big rip in his raft. He repaired it over and over. By the time he was rescued he weighed less than a hundred pounds.
- In another famous survival account, a man had to amputate his own arm in order to free himself from under a boulder.
- A woman was raped in her own apartment bedroom. Her attacker assured her that he had no intention of killing her. But somehow, her intuition warned her that he was going to kill her. She sneaked behind him when he went into the kitchen, then escaped out the front door and ran for help. She later learned that her attacker had gone into the kitchen to find a knife big enough to kill her with.
In each of these cases, the survivor refused to accept his or her circumstances. The survivor was proactive, using whatever was on hand to find food or water, or to get free. They prayed. they thought of their families.
The survivor did not panic. He (she) willed himself to think and to be aware of his surroundings. The rape victim didn’t dismiss that intuitive voice that warned her of danger despite what logic told her.
If something doesn’t seem right about a person or a situation, it probably isn’t right. Listen to that inner voice. But always keep thinking and planning.
I’ve had some minor survival situations. You probably have, too. The subject of survival fascinates me. Am I a survivor? Would I remain calm? Would I be able to talk myself out of a sticky situation? Or keep my wits about me if lost in the wilderness?
Are you a survivor? What did you do to get yourself out of a dangerous place? I’d love to hear about it. Who knows, I may incorporate your story into one of my novels…names changed, of course!