Safety, the rule of threes, awareness, and intuition
Some books and, more in particular, some illustrations on the pages that you read will remain with you. Such as The Little Prince, written by Antoine de Saint-Exupery and first published in 1943. This children’s book (number 2 on the list of best selling single-volume books – number 1 is Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings) with the illustrations self-painted with watercolours, is poetic and astonishing at the same time. Here’s the tale about a stranded pilot in the desert who encounters a young prince, after he fell down from an asteroid. While on the subject, it bears autobiographical traces. My copy showed the snake after it swallowed a pig and a hat and I remember having stared at this drawing for hours. How was it possible? Could a snake really do this? Yes, it can. Years after, the mind lets you picture the illustrations effortlessly, meanwhile stressing another point: be aware of snakes, they’re dangerous.
The same author once said: “To be a man is, precisely, to be responsible.” An indubitable fact, for men and women alike.
Inextricably intertwined with responsibility is the need for those qualities and skills that will let you fulfill the tasks at hand. Awareness of the environment has to be second nature.
Nature did not ask for us to visit her
Nature is just what it is. It has no moral, there does not exist good or bad behavior on Nature’s side. Therefore, all living organisms, at the same time part of nature as a whole, can only act in one single manner in order to survive and that is by adapting to circumstances. The human race has done impressively well in this respect: we are still here and if we need something to enhance our quality of life, we tend to invent it. Still, we’re living on one planet only. No escape route yet. The American author Stephen Crane, his writings often as intense as ironic, amalgamated it all in just a few words:
A man said to the universe:
“Sir, I exist!”
“However,” replied the universe,
“The fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation.”
The rule of threes
And that’s it. Meanwhile, we rely heavily on modern technology, for all aspects of our life. Skills possessed by our ancient ancestors are sometimes lost completely, sometimes considered to be unnecessary baggage, and in some cases believed to be dead wood. The core of bushcraft knowledge and survival skills is nothing else than reclaiming this territory. As a rule, key items or important basics are presented in odd-sounding abbreviations like STOP (Stop, Think, Orientate, Plan), SPEAR (Stop, Plan, Execute, Assess, Re-evaluate), and SFWF (Shelter, Fire, Water, Food). Despite their unfamiliar ring at first, they have proved to be strong mnemonic aids, becoming friendly familiar.
Generally speaking, a human can survive for:
- 3 seconds: the fight or flight response
- 3 minutes: without oxygen
- 3 hours: without sufficient protection against exposure
- 3 days: without water
- 3 weeks: without food
- 3 months: without another human as a companion
Intuition, conscious reasoning, and practice
And how about intuition, that instantly made and powerful judgment of a situation? Intuition will count towards choosing the best possible solution absolutely. It might steer you towards a righteous decision when there is little or no time to evaluate. Still, it cannot be trusted blindly because our intuitive impulses are derived from instinctive understanding rather than from conscious reasoning. As a result, it may be a pitfall, luring you into the wrong course. Uncensored intuitive decisions have a smart and seductive habit of presenting themselves as simple do’s and don’ts. Hence, rather than trust your intuition only, the match with conscious reasoning will provide a necessary supplement to security.
Understanding how intuition works – it is the brain, recognizing recurring patterns and picking up on them – also explains why practice enhances intuition. And why your intuition might be clueless about situations that did not occur ever before, therefore searching the general database for information that might be helpful. As a general rule, the more structured knowledge on a subject (any subject) acquired the better intuition functions as a fast lane for the brain to come up with adequate solutions. A sense of insecurity, a sudden feeling of uneasiness: they will be easier to grasp and to understand. Awareness of the environment includes a certain degree of cautiousness but is under normal circumstances, not the equivalent of being alarmed by almost anything. In such a case superstition, fright or anxiety might have settled in your mind, blurring the distinction between reality and fantasy. Anyway, in the end, this couldn’t be described as an ideal mindset.
Or maybe it is just one of those days, calling for reading a book.
Image credit: J. van Marsdijk