How To Bust Through The Choke Point Dilemma: Freak Out About Something

I have an awesome post on toxic masculinity and our current cultural and societal shift. I have been working on it for months. Whenever the last blog post was, that is how long I have been writing, mulling the topic over, rewriting, talking with friends and family, starting over, etc. And I have discovered a couple of things: a) I can’t control any of it and things shift too quickly for me to keep track of, and b) getting bogged down on one idea has killed my desire to write anything at all.

I have been stuck at this choke point for months- wanting to write, disliking what I had written, wanting to incorporate recent developments, disliking what I had written… In order to break through that wall I decided to write about something immediate and that I care about.

Emergency: This Book Will Save Your Life by [Strauss, Neil]Lately I have been mildly obsessed with disaster preparedness. A little background: my father built a shelter in the foundation of his house and stocked it with canned goods when I was about nine or ten. He has a number of guns for home defense and for shooting in the woods, and made sure to teach me the fundamentals of gun safety during our summers together. My paternal grandfather ran what we would now call an escape and evasion course for the navy, helping pilots learn the skills needed to evade capture if downed behind enemy lines. he instilled in my father the need for safe paces to go and plans to get there in case everything went sideways. So I guess it is in my blood to think about what if scenarios, although I will admit that the waking up in the middle o the night worrying about peak oil and climate change is new.

I recently read a fun, paranoia inducing book called Emergency: This Book Will Save Your Life by Neil Strauss. It is actually a lot of fun to read, since he travels through many of the levels of potential freak out scenarios so that you don’t really have to. He explores everything from getting dual citizenship (for when the American passport is no longer one of the most welcomed in the world) to learning how to track other humans through the wilderness to escaping from the back of a car trunk…while his hands are zip tied together…and then evading bounty hunters while traveling by foot through the city. All of which sounds like crazy fun to me, and all of which also sounds a wee bit out of context with my life. I am not a independent contractor working in the Middle East, so escaping from a trunk might not be the most important skill to acquire.

What I love about the book is how it ends. After experiencing all all of these and more he concludes that what will help most in any disaster, man made or natural, is community. Having skills that are useful to others might just be more important than skills that are meant to keep you safe while all alone in the wilderness. Sure, you might find yourself in the deep woods or on the side of a mountain in a cave, but most likely (for me and other urban dwellers) you will be at home or at work, in town, surrounded by other people. Getting to know your neighbors is the key to making it through a disaster. Being friendly with your neighborhood firefighter, the carpenter next door, the guy with the ham radio down the street: these are all excellent people to know! Getting somewhere safe, with others, is more useful than heading out alone. And being able to help out when others need it makes it much more likely that you will be helped out in turn.

So go out there, get some first aid training, strike up with your neighbor police officer or nurse, get that ham radio license (I admit, that one sounds fun.) Be useful. Help out. Because wtshtf*, it might just be the people around you every day who get you through it.


  • Ridiculously difficult to pronounce acronym for When The Shit Hits The Fan. I have to say it in my head every time to remember the letters.

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