If you have seen the movie What About Bob can in some way relate to the OCD character Bob and cannot help but laugh at his ridiculous antics. The funniest and perhaps most well known scene is when Bob meets with the psychiatrist and receives what would become the most famous cinema prescription, “Baby steps.” When trying to conquer any fear, or overcome difficult circumstances in any situation, we need the same advice, baby steps.
I was just recently introduced to the SurvivalBlog. Upon first reading it, the amount of information is daunting. The amount of preparation for TEOTWAWKI is virtually insurmountable. If not for the even greater fear of current events and the real possibility of societal collapse, I would have “x-ed” out of the survival blog, never to have returned. But I took baby steps, read a few articles, and am still overwhelmed by the amount of preparation I need to do.
I was born and raised in Northern Virginia. For any reader not familiar with the area, “inside the beltway” is as urban as the District itself and as yuppie as Hollywood. The closest thing us Northern Virginians come to experiencing nature is the Cougar living down the road driving her Jaguar to her “green” McMansion. We have no sense of the reality of nature. Our lawns are professionally groomed by the company our HOA hires. We cannot cultivate a green thumb by planting a bush without prior approval from the HOA. Having a vegetable garden in your backyard, let it be anathema! To eat healthy or even naturally, one must ride their bike down to the local Whole Foods and carry their produce back in an environmentally friendly reusable bag. Survival techniques like fishing and hunting include buying fish sticks from the frozen food section and hitting a deer with your car on the way home. The Northern Virginia lifestyle has no resemblance to a traditional agrarian lifestyle nor does it teach the age old techniques of survival. So you can now imagine my raison d’être for hyperventilating and the necessary prescription, Baby steps!
Where do I begin and what baby steps do I now need to take? What I intend to do in this article is tell briefly my story of survival preparation thus far, and then explain my “baby step” survival plan for those urbanites/suburbanites who have yet to begin any preparations. My survival preparation began unknowingly the week after the last presidential election. Fearing strict new gun laws, I went to the local sporting goods store and purchased my first gun, a Remington 870 Express. Known for its versatile capabilities and simplistic construction, I decided this was going to be the right gun that could do it all. Although there are many other guns that would better suit certain individual activities better, like hunting or protection, I can hunt and protect myself with my shotgun. I do not need a multiplicity of guns, just different kinds of ammo. My unknowing TEOTWAWKI preparation continued with a free subscription to Field and Stream Magazine. In my opinion it is the ultimate outdoorsman magazine with so many useful tips and interesting stories. This subscription sparked that outdoorsman/survival instinct in me. I began to read and learn about fishing and hunting. This past November I went hunting for my first time. While the experience was exhilarating, the stark reality of my inability and lack of skill was clear. I am fortunate in that I live very close to the NRA’s headquarters and Bull Run Shooting Center, a range that is considered one of the best on the east coast for sporting clays. I frequent both with increasing regularity becoming more familiar with my shotgun. I have also become and avid fisherman, going out to the lake any chance I get. I purchased for the first time a fishing license allowing me to fish in fresh water, salt water, and fish for trout (Virginia requires different licenses for each). I invested in fishing gear that is good beginner gear and economical at the same time. I have tried different lures and baits and I am on my way to perfecting my casting and retrieval techniques. Finally, I purchased a National Parks pass. This pass grants me entrance into any of the nation’s National Parks. My hiking trips have increased in number and in scope. I began at the “bunny hill”, Great Falls National Park and have since graduated to some of the more difficult trails in Skyline National Park. Why on earth am I telling you, dear reader, about my hobbies? What does this have to do with TEOTWAWKI?
I think the first step for any survival plan and TEOTWAWKI preparations is familiarity with the environment that we will most likely be forced to live in and survive by. Imagine any disaster situation. It is one thing to have a whole lot of gear prepared, but if you don’t know how to use it, what’s the use? Cultivate that inner outdoorsman survivalist. Go hiking; buy a gun and go shooting; go fishing. While becoming the outdoor enthusiast and purchasing gear, keep in mind that you might need to survive on this one day so get something that is versatile. Buy a gun that can be used to hunt deer, rabbits (or squirrels), and birds. By changing the choke and ammo, my Remington 870 gives me the ability to hunt all three of these animals. When you purchase a fishing pole, get a pole that is strong enough to catch the big channel catfish, and yet light enough to catch trout. Remember, if you are forced to survive, the chances you will be able to have a plethora of fishing poles is slim to none. My suggestion in this area would be a medium action Ugly Stick. It holds a 6-10lbs line and is known for its strength and sensitivity while at the same time being only moderately priced (about $40). A 6 lb line is about the heaviest you would want for catching trout. But you would also be able to catch a bass on the same line. You could change it out with a heavier line and catch really big bass or catfish. But it’s all done with one rod and one reel. Another major benefit of learning the art of fishing, aside from the fish you will catch, is you learn the art of knot tying. Knots will be used in all sorts of survival circumstances from catching animals and hanging up meat from a tree limb to getting yourself across a swollen river or down a steep cliff. Begin to hike, even if it ends up being in the small local community parks. You will need to figure out what type of hiking shoes do not hurt your feet and will hold up for the miles of hiking you might be forced to do. I own a pair of low cut Merrell’s, while the rest of my family swears by L.L. Bean. To each his own! Figure out your brand.
Step two of my “baby step” survival plan is to prepare for two weeks at a time. I battled despair when I first happened upon this blog. I read article after article by those who had a two year supply of food, a cabin out in the woods, a root cellar, etc. I kept asking myself, “How on earth will I ever be as prepared as these people?” Living in Northern Virginia, how can I gain the necessary skills to survive “off the grid?” Baby steps! Preparing a two week food supply is a whole lot easier than to trying to prepare for a whole month or two months. It takes time to build up the food reserves and the other necessary equipment. Take it two weeks at a time. Prepare for the first two week with a bug out bag. Then prepare for another two weeks. Then prepare for another two weeks after that. Eventually you will have prepared the necessary food and supplies to last you the two years plus that others on this blog already have. I’m not going to try to reinvent the wheel by trying to list what I think you would need for a two week bug out bag. There are many a fine article on this site which are more comprehensive than I could hope to be. Another point to consider while making two week preparations is your action plan. Try to imagine all the situations that could happen and then asses the area you live in. Lets pretend for a moment that you live in Old Town Alexandria just across the river from DC. The likely hood that DC is the epicenter of the disaster is great. You live on the river, a stone’s throw from what could potentially be ground zero. What do you do? Do you bug in or do you bug out? If you bug out, where do you go? When making these kinds of plans, you must always keep family and friends in mind. Will you quickly move to a relatives or friends house and combine efforts? Will you bug in there for two weeks and assess the situation from there? Should you immediately decide to bug out, is there a spot out in the country that is your prearranged meeting place? When you are surviving, you have to take it day by day. When you are planning, take it week by week.
Finally, the last baby step in survival preparation is religion. There is the very real possibility that you will not survive the TEOTWAWKI event and you will quickly be sent to meet your Maker. Will the years of prepared food and survival skills matter when you are standing before the Divine Judge? If you do survive TEOTWAWKI event, the Lord will be your shepherd guiding you through those dark valleys. Your soul’s preparation is just as necessary. If you don’t practice any faith, now would be a really good time to start. If you already practice your religion with firm belief, take that conviction from firm to rock solid. I am a cradle Catholic and by the grace of God, have always been firm in my convictions. But I also know that I am a sinner and miss the multitude of opportunities presented to me every day to prove my love for the Lord. In the difficult situations, will I have the serenity and fortitude of Job, or will I deny Christ like Peter did? Religion and faith is a hard thing to acquire and perfect. Take it a week at a time. If you don’t already go to church, start going on Sundays. It may be boring at first, but the effort will eventually pay off. If you already go to Church, then pick up the scriptures once during the week and read a chapter from the Gospels. If this is something you are already accustomed to doing every day, spend a little extra time in meditation or prayer. Take the time now to get know the Lord so that when you are forced to rely on Him, you are relying on a friend rather than a stranger.
Toward the end of the movie “What about Bob”, OCD Bob is well on his way to conquering his fears. The one scene that comes to mind is of him sailing. He is tied to the mast of the ship with life preservers all around him and he is exclaiming “I’m sailing!” He was only able to overcome his fears by taking baby steps. Take baby steps in your TEOTWAWKI preparations and you, like Bob, will do what you thought was unachievable and be able say “I’m prepared.”