PHILOSOPHY - Flowchart of Survival Strategy

Aw, crap.  Not more philosophy!  Yeah, I know some people tire of this, but it's important.  Really important.  At least I'll make it entertaining for you.  Let me first amaze you with my graphic design skills and show you something that I have carefully crafted to look like I did it at the kitchen table with Virginia's box of crayons.  I call it the Flowchart of Survival Strategy

Flowchart 1

Do you like it?  It isn't terribly difficult to follow, and we'll be coming back to this flowchart over and over again. 

If you have been following along, we were home, SHTF, and now we've decided to exercise the LEAVE option.  In order to do that, we executed various escape plans.  Well, actually, we developed various escape plans.  The escape plan I actually executed was more of a HOLY SHIT! plan.

We aren't entirely done with escape plans, and we are going to continue to refine them as time goes on.  You are going to specifically need to refine your own escape plans as we go along and you think about more and more things in new ways.  (Yes, I know that's very ambitious of me...)

Right now, in our timeline, I am sitting in my driveway in my Ford Escape, about to drive away.  What do I have, though?  What have I done?  What is it that I have assembled - almost instinctively - without actually realizing it?

By now you have realized that the 60 Second, One Hour, and Twelve Hour Plans are not actually three separate plans.  They are just different aspects of the same plan, and it's a plan that helps us put together something unique - a survival kit that none of the books, magazines, or doomsday websites ever teach you how to make. 

Hopefully, when I said, "kit", you hollered, "SURVIVAL IS NOT A KIT!", which is true.  For many years before Katrina, there was always something in the back of my mind whenever I read survivalist literature.  I was never able to articulate it.  I had drank the survivalist Kool-Aid, and my mind was poisoned by it in some ways.  I didn't actually come to fully appreciate exactly what that something was, or understand how to articulate it for many weeks after Katrina.  The thing itself is embodied in the Flowchart of Survival Strategy, and the thing itself is just that - STRATEGY.  In order to articulate it, we're going to use a metaphor that will help us clearly think about our survival strategy - both long term and short term. 


Yeah.  The Titanic.  Bet you didn't see that coming...

In order to think about Tactics and Strategy in the context of the Survival Game, a shipwreck is the simplest of examples and the Titanic is the simplest of shipwrecks.  You know the whole story already, so we're on common ground. 

The best tactic for surviving a shipwreck is to board a lifeboat and row away from the sinking vessel.  (Duh!)  The various books, magazines, and doomsday websites are excellent resources for the tactics.  They tell you all about lifeboats.  They will tell you how to purchase or make the finest lifeboat, equip your lifeboat with the all the best things, fanciest gadgets, and large quantities of high quality provisions.

That's good.  It's good to have a nice lifeboat. 

Past that point, though, we have to ask the simple question, "What is the strategy of a lifeboat? What is its purpose?" If you got into a lifeboat with a bunch of people who told you, "Don't worry! We are professionals! We have been preparing for shipwrecks all our lives! We know exactly what to do!", what would you want to know?

The first thing I would want to know is, "So...what's the plan?"

Sit with me a moment in this lifeboat. There are a number of people here. Smart people. People with skills. People with forethought. Men and women of a Serious Nature. We ask our simple question, "So...what's the plan?", and they respond without skipping a beat. "We're going to SURVIVE! We've got lots of SUPPLIES, and we can FISH and HUNT, and we know all the right things to do to LIVE in this LIFEBOAT! We KNOW how to distill SEA WATER, and we can DRINK our own URINE until the still is up and RUNNING!"

"Uh... So the plan is to stay in the lifeboat?"

"Yes! We have everything we need! We can live in the lifeboat indefinitely! We are self-sufficient! We can live in the lifeboat for years! We don't need anything or anyone else. We have everything we need right here."

"What about either trying to get rescued or making our way to dry land?"

All you get in response to that, though, is...the Freak look...

I want you to think about that. I want you to seriously appreciate the sheer madness of that. That is, though, what a lot of the books preach  Some kind of idyllic self-sufficiency.  We seriously need to rethink that strategy...

While I enjoy a nice warm glass of urine as much as the next guy, I really want to be in a different lifeboat. I don't know about you, but I want to be in a lifeboat that is seaworthy, yes, but light and fast. I want to get back to dry land, cold beer, juicy steak, warm blankets, and hot pie as soon as possible. Drifting the open ocean with a bunch of people - no matter how skilled or prepared they are - is not my idea of life.

I don't want to be a sustenance farmer. I don't want to live in a cave. I want my MTV! Why don't any of the books, magazines, or doomsday websites ever cover that all important goal? Why hasn't anyone written a book about what you need to do in order to create a society, to organize a town, and to build a city after TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It)? Because it isn't sexy. It doesn't feed our American Fantasy of Apocalypse. Guns, ammo, food storage, and wilderness survival skills are real things that people can cling to to assuage their fears. Is that stuff important? Yes. I've got all that stuff too.  Is it the most important thing?  Not by a longshot.

I used to be one of those people who would go to sleep at night petting my 80 pound backpack whispering, "My Precious... My Precious..." If Katrina taught me nothing else, she has taught me that you not only have to Have Your Shit Together physically, you also have to Have Your Shit Together mentally. You have to have your mind right. If your mind isn't right, your stuff won't be right either. You have to keep your eyes on the prize. The books, magazines, and doomsday websites are selling us something. They're selling us fear. That's FEAR - False Expectations Appearing Real. The solution set they sell us includes a heavy bug-out bag full of expensive shit that is just about worthless for building a society. They've got the right mindset, but they have the wrong tool kit.  (That isn't to say that you should get rid of your backpack yet.  We're going to work on improving it in two dozen pages or so, take a few things out of it, and replace them with things like leadership skills, group dynamic psychology, and how to build a community.) 

Is SHTF a scary idea?  Yep.  You know what's scarier than SHTF?  Never going home again.

Is being able to sustain yourself in the lifeboat important? Hell yes! Is it the most important thing? Hell no! The most important thing is to use that clever lifeboat to get us back to civilization. To get us HOME!

Flowchart 1Let's get off this lifeboat for a moment, and talk about Home. Home with a capital 'H'. The Flowchart of Survival Strategy starts with Home. Home is not just bricks and mortar. Home is an idea. No, I'm not going to recite any "Home is where the heart is." or "There's no place like home.", kind of poetry. Home is both more and less than that. I want you to engage me in this: If I ask you to show me your Home, what are you going to show me? Are you going to show me the walls of your house? Your wife? Your furniture? Your kids? Your guns? Your carpets? Your ammo fort? What? What is Home to you?

Home is not just where you live, the stuff you have, or the people you surround yourself with. Home is the place where you are comfortable to be. It's the place where you feel (and are) both safe and secure. (Safety and security are NOT the same thing!) It is a place for which you have, and from which you draw, affection. If you do not have such a place, even though you may live in the most palatial mansion on Earth, then you are as homeless as a naked street junkie. The idea of Home is the place from which all your 'survival missions' start, and it is also the end goal of those 'missions'.


My desire is that you will appreciate that when you leave home, you're also going home. (Which I will admit seems enigmatic at first.) The route you navigate may get complicated in the middle. It may be difficult. You may face many storms, long days, sleepless nights, government bureaucracy, and a definite lack of hot pie. No matter what, the primary strategy is KEEP MOVING FORWARD!

I'd like to tell you that as I started up my car and put it in drive that I knew that - but I would be lying. I had no idea. I was scared. All I knew at that point was that I was leaving home, and while I had all the skills I needed to drift in the ocean, I didn't have the skills I needed to get Home. I would have to invent that as I went along. I would need the help of people who may not be smarter than I am, but they are certainly wiser. I didn't appreciate what I was doing because in all my many years of thinking and dreaming about this day, nobody had ever told me that my ultimate goal was to go Home.

That's prosaic, but the truth can be somewhat less heartening. I am not going to tell you that it's all gonna be OK in the end because it isn't. You don't just go home. It sucks in the middle. You have to fight for Home, and sometimes fight hard. You are not guaranteed any victory, and if you are not diligent you can end up living in a place that will never be Home. If you are exceptionally unlucky, you may never find Home again.  I'm going to show you people like that before much longer - and frankly, it's one of the saddest things you ever want to see.

KEEP MOVING FORWARD is the strategy. From the second you leave Home, Home is the goal. The tactics you employ are going to vary depending on the situation. You will fight many battles. You will experience victories and setbacks. In a very real way your lifeboat and everything in it are weapons of war. They are the weapons you will use to fight - and fight hard - for Home.

I mean that both metaphorically and literally. Everyone knows the traditional weapons of war - guns, ammo, food, and water. These thing are important, have no doubt, but they aren't the only weapons you will need in your fight for home. Guns won't get you a job. Ammo won't find you shelter. Food won't turn the lights back on. Water won't help you file insurance claims, deal with government agencies, or find a contractor to fix your roof. In all of your preparations, know very clearly that the primary focus of all your bug out plans is to go Home - in every sense of the word. Every step of the way, when packing your lifeboat, ask yourself the primary question; "Do I have what I need to quickly and efficiently start a new life in another place or to re-establish my life when I come back here?" Do I have what I need to provide not just for my short term survival, but also to provide for my return to civilization? Do I have what I need to do my part to actually help rebuild civilization? 

If you have followed The Plan up to this point, your answer to all of those questions will be, "Yes!"

If you have followed the Traditional Lore of Survivalism, then your answer will be, "No.", despite the fact that you are sitting in the woods with guns, ammo, water, and 5000 cases of MREs - and won't you feel like a dumb-ass?

For now, though, we have delayed too long.  I have pulled to the end of the driveway, and now it is time to launch this lifeboat into the Ocean of the Unknown and row.  My tires ease onto the river of pavement and I begin navigating with tens of thousands of other people who are trying to get off this sinking ship.

If I had known then what I know now, when Virginia asked me at the end of our street, "Daddy, where are we going?", I could have told her the truth.  I could have told her, "We're going home."

As it is, I was not so fortunate, and I sputtered a bit, mumbled, "I don't know.", and proceeded to drool on myself or something.

For the sake of history, though, let's agree to lie about it and say that I said in a cheery voice, "Don't worry, Virginia.  We're going Home!"



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