With all the obstacles we face as a species, racism, sexism, classism, violence, terror, hunger, disease, pollution and plain old stupidity it’s not surprising that so many people are afraid. Fear can be an unforgiving task master taking control of a person, changing how they see those around them and the world in general. For a lot of people creating a safe space filled with things that convey a feeling of security or learning a skill that could help keep you alive are ways of fighting back, taking control of the fear.
I am not comfortable referring to myself as a ‘Prepper’ because of the negative connotations. It conjures images of a gun carrying, scruffy bearded right winger living in the woods waiting to hide or pounce, depending on their chosen vision of the future. It may not be a very accurate picture but it is the most publicized aspect of the philosophy and the reason I decided to join the Nervous Nelly club.
A Nervous Nelly worries, fidgets, thinks, over analyses, thinks some more and eventually freaks out about their current obsession before taking any action. Right now, ok for the last couple of years actually, I have been obsessing about the future path of the human race. I think overall people have evolved in the right direction: developing compassion and empathy, placing a higher value on life (all life), realizing the earth is a responsibility, not a commodity to be used then tossed aside. Of course there will always be pockets of petulant people who put greed and desire above all else but I see hope in the responses of activists all over the world who are standing up in the face of injustice yelling “NO”.
One thing that keeps popping up in the back of my fidgety mind though, is time. Is it too late? Is it too late for the living to learn and adapt to a different world? Is it too late for the earth to do a U turn and recover from the damage that has already been inflicted? Is it too late to teach our children that leading a productive, meaningful life is more important than fame and money? I don’t know. So, I worry and plan and make lists. Planning helps to soothe nerves and get your mind in order. It can also remind you of all the basic skills you never bothered to learn or considered important before. And while you can find all the information you need about self defense, building a fire, finding water or navigating your surroundings in books, having the information doesn’t actually give you the ability to accomplish a task. I can read all I want about human anatomy and surgical procedures but that doesn’t mean I could remove a ruptured appendix without killing the patient. So the plan is to learn to do something new, a useful skill to help me feel more confident about the future. Plus it distracts my brain from all the stuff I don’t want to think about. A stock pile of freeze dried food won’t insure your survival in the case of a natural or manmade disaster but the ability to find, prepare and preserve food might. Being able to keep yourself warm and dry when there isn’t any traditional shelter gives you an advantage.
There’s no way to know the future so that means there is no way to really prepare all of the stuff needed to see you through a catastrophic event, but, stock pile or no, skills still give you an edge. Look at how our ancestors, prehistoric man survived. They didn’t have canned peaches or spam or powdered milk. Early humans were successful because they learned to work within their environment and create what they needed; they developed the skills then passed them on to their off spring. Did it suck? I’m sure, but we are all living proof it can be done and that gives me more than hope, it gives me confidence in humanity.