“Survivor.” What comes to mind when you see or hear this word? A victim of a disease or of a perverted crime? A TV show? We’re all survivors in that every day, we do something to stay alive—life-saving things we don’t even think about as life-saving, such as eating healthy and exercising. People die every day from killing themselves with food.
Survival also may conjure up true spectacular stories of survival, like the man who cut off his arm to free himself from a boulder because he was starving to death, and the man who ate a caterpillar and lotion from a bottle because he was starving to death after getting lost in the wilderness (both men fully recovered, though one has an artificial arm).
Sometimes we get a chance to survive, like being lost in the wilderness or adrift at sea in a raft. Sometimes that chance is shorter, like being in a house that catches fire.
And sometimes you don’t get a chance to employ tactics, like the guy who’s hit in the head from behind (or even from the front), falls to the cement and the pavement shatters his skull, causing a fatal acute subdural hematoma. Of course, that’s a better way to go, perhaps, than experiencing the terrifying six minutes it takes for an airplane to take a nose dive from 35,000 feet.
You can’t do much when you’re sitting in that plane or your leg’s in that wood chipper that’s rapidly pulling you in and nobody could hear you screaming. Ouch!
However, many people die because they simply didn’t have their wits. They had the time to survive, but made the wrong choices. Sometimes, survival begins with a choice. Do you want to get into that stranger’s car just because your legs are a little tired? Will walking kill you? Probably not. But the stranger who’s offering a perfectly able-bodied, young woman a ride in perfect weather likely has something sinister up his sleeve.
So many people worry about survival in terms of things that they’re very unlikely to ever die from, such as a terrorist attack. Don’t forget that the No. 1 killers are heart disease and cancer. And believe it or not, medical errors rank right up there in the top five too.
Perhaps the greatest weapon for survival, however, is the mind. Are you a screamer or a fighter? Panic disables, but anger enables! I’m reminded of a woman who was assaulted by a tall teen boy. After struggling, she eventually got him on the ground, pinning his arms over his head and sitting on him till police arrived. She states in an article at torontosun.com: “When I get angry, I have a lot of strength. The secret to getting through something like this is, ‘Don’t panic, but think through what you’re going to do now.’ ” Love her!