[Marie Curie was awesome. Her work had a huge impact on the field of science and the world as a whole. And it killed her. True story, she would carry around test tubes full of radioactive substances in her pockets. She would leave them in her desk and admire their tendency to glow in the dark. No one knows if she would have done the same if she had known the damaging effects of radiation on the human body; I like to think that she would have been at least a little more careful. Either way, despite the cataracts and the aplastic anemia, she endured and dedicated her life and energy to the work she felt so strongly drawn to. We should all be so bold.]
Life is hard.
Sometimes it gets easier. Sometimes it gets harder. I think part of what can make life so hard is the potential for the proverbial bottom to drop out. It’s not something that one should focus on constantly, but I think we should all at least acknowledge it. Fires, floods, disease. Pestilence, War, Famine, Death. Apocalypses don’t always ride horses. And the aren’t always so large-scale. One man’s battle is another man’s war, so to speak. I’ve known people to crumble to pieces after a hard day at work. I’ve known people who I’ve never seen flustered at all, no matter what happens. It’s all relative.
A little back story: In September, Ebola arrived in Dallas, and The Family Glass found ourselves facing a potentially incredibly serious epidemic less than an hour away from Glass headquarters. We had only been in our new location for about a month and a half and we suddenly found ourselves calculating how much it would take to break our lease, rent a U-Haul and get back to Central Texas before the killer virus commuted to our town and somehow tracked us down. Somewhere in there, Baby Glass got kind of a crazy stomach bug which Mrs. Glass and I prayed wasn’t Ebola. It wasn’t (Thank God) but the whole experience kind of shook our foundation. We had considered ourselves fairly prepared, but when the shtuff hit the fan, we were considerably less confident. We needed to revisit our preparedness. Because preparation begets confidence begets perseverance.
Somewhere in the weeks to follow, we happened to be at Half Price Books and I stumbled onto this gem:
What I liked about it was that it put things better into perspective. What I mean is that it discusses, like I mentioned above, that disaster is relative. You have to look at your situation and you priorities and choose a disaster preparedness plan that suits the scenarios which are most detrimental to you. For instance, if you work in a unstable career field in a dry climate, it would be better for you to prepare for a job loss rather than a flood. You have to make your plan yours. Knowing that you are prepared to endure the worst-case scenario may not make it less real, but it makes you more confident that you will survive it.
I don’t have a bunker (yet) or a stockpile (that you need to know about) but I have made steps in the direction of being prepared for a number of higher-level catastrophes. One of the most important things that I’ve done is make it a priority to learn as much as I can about outdoor survival skills, disaster preparedness, and pretty much anything else that will put you out on top when the bottom drops out not only because it’s fascinating, but because it’s valuable and practical information as well. Believe it or not, one of the books that I read early that was surprisingly inspirational in its approach to catastrophic survival was Max Brooks’ Zombie Survival Guide. I feel it’s important to mention this because I feel like too many people think that a shotgun and a machete are all anyone needs to survive a zombie swarm, and for some reason it really bothers me when I see vehicles (usually decked-out trucks) with “Zombie Outbreak Response Team” stickers on them. Truth be told, I’m not advertising how prepared I am for any kind of “Outbreak” let alone one that requires weaponry because many hands make light stockpiles and I’m trying to make Team Glass last as long as possible. I get the excitement, though. Zombies are cool. I like most of the “..of the Dead” movies and I’m glad Walking Dead is on Netflix for when one of those rare occurrences arises when I have the house and a couple of hours to myself. I think that the Marvel Zombies series is pretty awesome and I really get a kick out of the chainsaw shotgun pump and other novel “zombie-related” firearm attachments. But, everything in moderation. If you’ve only got enough buy either the unnecessary shotgun accessory or, say, a couple extra boxes of shells, I would go with the extra ammo.
What I’m getting at with all of this is that the Zombie Survival Guide is a really good baseline for developing a general disaster preparedness plan. The book goes into detail about recommended amounts of various supplies, not just firepower. It talks about ways to create a well-fortified shelter that will allow for the growing of enough vegetables and fruits to sustain your group over an extended period. It also covers some necessary skills that would come in handy for just about any outdoor mishap. It doesn’t just describe the specifics of a zombie attack, it covers the short- and long-term survival of what is essentially a pathogenic, epidemic, face-to-face, hand-to-hand attack on you and the people you love. Material like this can be applied to the threat of widespread infection from a deadly virus (Ebola), an attack from a foreign nation, or even certain natural disasters. Like I said, overall it’s a good baseline for developing your own plan. Because preparation begets confidence begets perseverance.
[I’ve also read Max Brooks’ World War Z which was, of course, the inspiration for the movie of the same name. I haven’t seen the movie and I don’t really want to, but I would definitely recommend the book. It’s got a kind of a “captain’s log” feel to it with reports of sightings and “historical documentation.” I enjoyed it because it isn’t really like any other book I’ve read on the topic.]
A final note with a final quote. If you haven’t read previous posts or if you have read them and hadn’t noticed, I am a pretty big Batman fan. He’s always been my favorite superhero and I really enjoy all of the alternate storylines, especially pertaining to the Joker’s psychology and origin or the later life of Bruce Wayne (Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke, etc.) and I was very excited to see elements from these masterpieces incorporated into Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. I really like all three of the films and one of my favorite quotes, and an idea that plays nicely into our discussion about perseverance is from Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight: “The night is darkest just before the dawn.” I’ve heard this said a lot of different ways but I like the imagery of this one (night vs. day). I would, however, modify it slightly by adding the reminder that “the day is also brightest before dusk.” You’d be a fool to go through the whole day without considering how prepared you are for the night to come. It might be a good idea to spend some of the good times preparing for the bad. Because preparation begets confidence begets perseverance.
P.S. – Endure, Master Wayne.