If civilization were to collapse, I’m pretty sure it would take me a mere three days to die.
Surely we’ve all pondered what we would do if the Powers That Be ceased to function. We all have some loose plan in our heads involving who we would take with us, where we would go, how we would defend it, and how we would sustain ourselves until the end of time. Personally, I’d think the best place to go would be somewhere remote, with fresh water and wildlife, and lots of available wood.
On a full tank, my car can take me 350 miles away. That gets me to Fort Stockton, Texas. And then what?
I’d like to believe in the ingenuity that would arise out of desperation: ways to trap rabbits for food, learning how to start a fire from scratch, building stone or clay mounds with branches for shelter. I’d like to think I’m better equipped to deal with a survival situation based on my wilderness experience. But no, that’s foolish.
Cliff Bars do not grow on trees. Iodine tablets do not fall with the rain.
Just recently, I walked to my mailbox barefoot. It shocked me how much the texture of the asphalt hurt the soles of my feet. In a bygone day, Native Americans ran through rocky badlands hunting for buffalo. Today, I can barely walk on a perfectly manicured lawn. The blades of grass are just too sharp.
I can imagine somewhere in Fort Stockton, Texas: “Here Lies Man, Cause of Death: Infected Foot Splinter, Rest In Peace”
It’s cruelly ironic how soft and lovely geographical features look from afar. Mountains look like purple grape candies with vanilla icing. Meadows look like plush green blankets dotted with bubblegum flowers. Prairies are silken, honey-baked loaves, beckoning you to frolic in their midsts.
Have you ever tried to frolic in a prairie, amongst the bees, burs, and ticks? Have you ever lain in a rocky, damp meadow? Have you ever gone to embrace the smooth slopes of a mountain to find scree and an icy wind?
It’s easy to pretend that I’d be able to survive some unknown catastrophe, imagining myself as some swashbuckling mountaineer. But once I get there, once I’m shivering alone in the rocky dirt and cold of night, walking away from my broken-down car to find fuel and food, I’ll realize I don’t even know how to wipe my own ass. To buy a roll of toilet paper from the supermarket for 79 cents, sure. But to pull it from the earth and form it from nothing but ingenuity? Not a clue.