‘We’ve lulled ourselves into believing that in an emergency, someone else will always come along to rescue us. We’ve stopped relying on our own wonderfully adaptable bodies, we’ve forgotten that we can think, climb, leap, run, throw, swim, and fight with more versatility than any other creature on the planet.’
– Christopher McDougall Natural Born Heroes
Surfing the last twenty years on the cold forbidding Oregon coast taught me self-reliance. It is a must around here. In exotic locations where the sun always shines, lifeguard towers will litter the beaches with buff n bronze trained professionals that are ready to jump in and save you Bay Watch style at the first sign of trouble. Not so much in the Pacific North Wet (not a typo), where you are on your own. I’ve been pulled a half mile offshore in a strong rip, charged by sea lions, watched my board pirouette on top of a wave seventy-five yards to the shore, dragged eighteen feet under the water in big surf, and much more. Despite thinking I am going to die, I survived on my own without help from anyone in those situations. In fact, it is amazing that more surfers do not meet their maker doing the sport they love. Hard to come by statistics show that only around 10 people died surfing of the estimated 23 million surfers in the world in 2018. Not that many, right? Those harrowing experiences produced something in me that sitting in a classroom or on a couch never did. Self-reliance. I could survive and thrive in the wild ocean despite what is thrown my way.
Take out venturing into the ocean (which freaks most people out) and the concept of self-reliance still sounds scary or foreign to a lot of us. Our culture has lulled ourselves into believing that we always need outside help when something goes wrong. We expect our government to take care of us, doctors to fix us, schools to teach us, and places of worship to tell us who God is. The fact is, we do not need these places like we think we do. I am not too stupid to understand that we do need these institutions to assist us and help when we are unable of take care of ourselves. What I am pointing out is lurking inside of each and every one of us is an amazing untapped capability to thrive in tough situations without outside help. You are tougher than what you think. I love Christopher McDougall’s quote from Natural Born Heroes. We are the most versatile creature on the planet, and we are capable of a lot more than we realize. The corona virus upended our world and lives on so many different levels, but it doesn’t mean you cannot thrive during challenging times.
So, what is it going to take for you to develop your own self-reliance during this season? Is it taking a wilderness medicine class or first aid course from us or someone else that instills confidence to handle first aid emergencies you may find yourself in? Is it taking our breath course, so you have another arrow in the quiver in your life to help handle the stress better? Is it just going outdoors to exercise? I don’t know what this means for you, but I do know you can handle this season and discover that there is more to you than you ever thought possible. GET OUT there and FIND OUT what you are really made of.