Sunday, December 23, 2012

So since the world didn’t end…

Yes. Not much of a big surprise. Yet there’s people that live for this stuff. Its always something. We’re always about to get hit by a comet, solar flare, peak oil, world wide economic collapse that will end the world as we know it. There’s always a new scare to look forward to and for some, that’s the reason for preparedness and to get involved in the survival lifestyle.

I guess I have a different view of things. I was watching this movie last night with my wife, Liberal Arts. It was her turn to pick one, and that usually means I’m stuck with a girly flick that makes you want to stick a knife in the base of your skull. The ones with Zac Efron in particular make me want to drink a gallon of gasoline and throw a lit match down my throat. It does seem less painful than watching his acting attempts. Turns out Efron was in this movie, but there was this scene that I got something out of. This old teacher is talking with an ex student of his. The guy looks pretty old, he just retired, and he asks his ex-student, now friend, if he knows how old he is. “I’m 19 years old” the old man says. He says it gets to a point where you feel young, yet you look at yourself in the mirror and this old dude is looking right back at you, this person you don’t recognize.

The point is, life is too short. One day you wake up and a decade went by. But wasn’t it just yesterday that I was nervous about that Biology exam? that I finished high school? that I got married? No man, it wasn’t yesterday, it was ten, fifteen, twenty years ago.  Life is too damn short and it’s a sin to waste even a single minute of it.
If you’re not enjoying your life today, you’re simply not enjoying life period. Tomorrow doesn’t matter, yesterday matters even less, its right now, right this moment that you’re alive. Personally, I feel that due to circumstances beyond my control, life was pretty much on hold for me for almost a decade. I tried my best, I tried having a good time while at it and usually succeeded at it, but in general, life felt “Paused” or at the very least, in slow motion. Before the 2001 crisis, life was pretty sweet. Being in high school certainly helped, but besides that life quality in general in Argentina was at levels that I considered acceptable. Poverty existed, but it wasn’t that bad. There was crime, but kidnappings were unheard of and murders weren’t at all common. Kids could play on the street, ride a bike. People could afford to travel, buy stuff, go out. After the economic collapse all that changed. Traveling anywhere abroad was suddenly four times more expensive than it was a week before, and it would stay that way, eventually get even worse. Buying a car, even a used one was a task that required years for an adult with an average income job. The inability to project your financial life even at a short term combined with the constant concern about crime on the streets just tainted all your plans, all your life.

You have good moments, and I suppose life is just that, a succession of good moments trying to have as many of those as possible. I was blessed in many ways. I met the love of my life, got married, had two beautiful kids. What more could you ask, right? But then there’s the things a lot of people do take for granted that we just didn’t have until we left Argentina. Every plan, every activity you do in Argentina is limited by two questions. Can you afford doing it? With a 25% inflation, the answer is no more often than you’d like. Even if you had the money, the second question usually ruined your plans:  Is it safe? Many times, no, its not. You do stuff, but the crime problem factor is always there, always an issue you cant ignore it since those that do so pay the price. Add to that the social degradation, the obvious poverty on the population, corruption, the dirty streets, littered parks and you get a better idea of what I mean.  
Now that life is on “Play” again, we can do all those things that were denied to us by the circumstances back home. Going for walk on parks, going camping without sleeping with a gun in your sleeping bag and looking through the window of your home without having to look through burglar bars every single time. Trust me, if you can’t live normal life without going all paranoid about the world ending every five minutes, when life does get complicated for whatever reason, keeping cool and staying positive will be impossible. 

So given that the world didn’t end (at least this time) I think it’s a good moment to take a few steps back and take a look at where you are standing in terms of preparedness. Do you live to prepare, or do you prepare so as to life a happier, more enjoyable life? Are you obsessing over terribly unlikely events and maybe forgetting to spend quality time with your family? Where you forcing your kids into an awkward lifestyle, not to have friends, just in case they came knocking on your door begging for food when the end of the world unavoidably comes? 

Modern survival is what you do so as to be better prepared for the challenges life throws your way, from car problems in the middle of the road, to floods and violent encounters with social predators, periods of unemployment, momentarily infrastructure failure or social breakdown. Even for more serious, more challenging events for which even self-claimed survival experts aren’t prepared for, you can be ready for them too without disrupting your life and more important, the life of your family.
Living like a freak detached from the world and building pipe bombs for when the refugee hordes come pouring from the cities does not mean you’re well prepared. It just means you’ll soon have the BATF knocking on your door. Same for acting like a lunatic in other ways, you’ll get locked up and rightfully so.  

You can be ready for most emergencies, you can plan for the most likely events, even the less likely ones that would have a big impact in your life. You can do all that and still be the most “normal” person in your neighborhood, successful, happy, raising kids that while smart and free thinking, they will still know how to function in society rather than desperately seek to run away from it. Most important, you can be a modern survivalist and still enjoy everything you have in life, every minute of it, without getting caught by the fear mongering and paranoia.
Take care folks, have a great day.



Anonymous said...

This is the perspective I appreciate about your blog. Often times people prepare for the fantasy that is on the far end of the probability spectrum while ignoring the unglamorous problems they really face. Case in point was Adam Lanza's mother. She was prepared for Red Dawn, but not for dealing with her mentally ill son in suburbia.

Then he told them a parable. "There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest.
He asked himself, 'What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?'

And he said, 'This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods

and I shall say to myself, "Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!"

But God said to him, 'You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong

Luke 12:16-20

Greek Caste System said...

Happy Christmas holiday, Fernando. Today, the leader of SYRIZA (SYnaspismos RIZospastikis Aristeras = Coalition of Radical Left-the main opposition party in Greece), Alexis Tsipras, has a meeting with your beloved lady.
On the topic now, you said "Now that life is on “Play” again, we can do all those things that were denied to us by the circumstances back home..." relocating and being away from family, isn't a problem? Entrepreneurs like doctors, accountants or engineers are professionally based on a net of acquaintances that took years to build and even inherited from parents. For many, relocating is not just issuing a passport, buying a house in Belfast and move there.

KeithC said...

Well put, my friend. I have opined in the past that it's not about "surviving", it's about *living*. And I'm glad you can finally hit Play (for now at least - I hear there's a meteor or asteroid or some such thing on its way :D).

A very Merry Christmas to you and your family. May you always be able to enjoy the gifts that life has given you.

Anonymous said...

This really needed saying. Prepare for the worst... but live for the best!

Anonymous said...

I feel the same about the old days. We just had a pedophile arrested who lived 2 streets from us. Supposedly he molested something like 100 kids at an unregistered daycare down the street. 'Is it safe?' Not so sure.

DaShui said...

Feliz Navidad! Amigo mio!

Maldek said...


Allow me to comment and reply to your questions. Native german speaker here, who moved to South america with family a few years ago.

"relocating and being away from family, isn't a problem?"
It is a problem, but not as bad as you think. Also airplanes DO exist.

"Entrepreneurs like doctors, accountants or engineers are professionally based on a net of acquaintances"

See that is part of greeks big problems.
What you describe is a person looking for a "good job". If you need your fathers friends, or the right party membership to get a job, there is something wrong.

If you are good in what you do, you can do it on your own. You do not need a job - you create one for yourself and others. You might even end up a much more happy person in the process.

"relocating is not just issuing a passport"
Most often you do not need a new passport. You just go to the country of your choice and apply for residency.

Most people are too lazy (or too afraid) to try.
Only when there is "blood on the streets" the fear to stay overcomes the fear to move. Then many move and these people are called refugees. You do not want to become a refugee ever.

What FerFal and I are talking about is expat. Thats totaly different. You move while there is still relativly little trouble but YOU realize things are going to be ugly at some point in the future - or, even better - you realize there is a big world full of opportunity, with higher standard of living and more freedom elsewhere.

Expats normaly have savings and enough money to provide them with a good start. Unlike refugees, expats are highly welcomed in many countries.
Think about it for a moment.

Greek Caste System said...

Your opinion is welcomed.

"If you are good in what you do, you can do it on your own. You do not need a job - you create one for yourself and others. You might even end up a much more happy person in the process. "

Totally agree.

"What you describe is a person looking for a "good job". "

There are ads here (Greece) for engineers (I am civil engineer) to work in Iraq. You can work there for one, two, five years. And then?

Of course you can e-mail me if you want.


Maldek said...

You can work there for one, two, five years. And then?

Then you have 2 or 5 years working experience. In a foreign country. Chances are your english has improved, you know a lot of people and hopefully you did save quite a bit of money. A world full of opportunities.

What you have learned all your life to "find a good job" (with the goverment maybe) and then stick to it for 40 years, counting the days until retirement.

Secure pay checks, social security, decent retirement payments - all this is what the generation below 40 will not have.
It is not just greece, this whole idea simply is unsustainable.

Where do you expect to find something like that? Even more as a foreigner? The idea with engineer in iraq sounds like a plan to me, if the pay is right.

Anonymous said...

Started in Bariloche, eh? A lovely town for tourists, but some nasty slums on the outskirts of town on the road coming in from El Maiten.