Editor’s Note: This post was generously donated by Elizabeth.
I guess in ways I’ve always been a prepper but never really thought about it like that; it’s always just been the way I live. Now, I’m definitely not prone to collecting mountains of random stuff, that would drive me nuts, but I wouldn’t think many people on this site are prone to it either as it would be too hard to maintain a bunch of stuff that has no use. From what I have observed, prepping is a thoughtful, well-considered series of actions, not a panic-stricken or depressive doom and gloom kind of thing.
I think of it as acknowledging and owning our responsibilities in a rational, adult manner.
In my adult life I’ve only lived 18 months in a home that could not provide wood heat and have always tried to have appropriate tools and supplies to last me through the ups and downs of life. I never considered that because it was mandatory for me personally to have a secondary heat source, or that because I keep a well-stocked larder in the basement it would be seen as odd. I never thought that learning skills like first aid or gardening were anything but an exercise in good sense.
Isn’t this just following the old adage to make hay while the sun shines?
At times when the sun wasn’t shining for me, there have been periods in which I’ve used my supplies and skills – I have been very glad to have had them.
I think I’ve always been this way. When I was five, I attempted to build a nuclear bomb shelter in the woods behind my parents’ house. Granted, if something had happened, it would have been safer to run into the basement (which was clean, neat, and well stocked) than to try to use my shelter, but when I was five I wasn’t exactly up to speed on all the science. I wasn’t doing it out of terror, though; I was doing it because if there was something I could do to ensure my survival, I figured it made sense to do it. (In retrospect, and now that I think about it, I guess I must have decided that my family was on their own!) And if I’m completely honest about it, I think I was partly doing it because I was out in the woods at my favorite place, building something fun, and enjoying imagining all the different things I could do to survive comfortably on my own. It was a fulfilling way to spend summer afternoons.
I’ve also always kept an eye on the news and the world around me (I call it swivel head economics) because stuff happens. I’ve found that if you want to ‘see’ into the next quarter earnings reports, observe the condition of people’s shoes, you’ll see the answers before the big dogs do. I’m of the opinion that it is delusional not to believe that something could happen. It could be on a large-scale like the predictions of megadrought that just came out to a terrorist act, economic turmoil, pandemic or any other thing that one can imagine. But does the fact that there is risk in the world mean we should freak out all over creation, live in a constant state of anxiety, or scurry into denial as if not thinking about things is a preventative act?
Of course not. I think if we’re in the conversation, we all agree that it makes perfect sense to be as self-sufficient as possible, have the things on hand that would allow us to react flexibly and fluidly to the unexpected, and to maintain as healthy and happy a life for our families, ourselves, and our communities as possible.
So imagine my surprise when my six-year-old started doing the exact same things I did at his age – imagining things that could go wrong and determining mitigating actions he could take. As an example, he counted the fire extinguishers in the house, thought about how fires could plausibly start, and decided we needed a couple more to be placed in strategic locations. I was pleased to help him with his plans as his thinking was not that fire was inevitable, nor was he behaving doom and gloom in any way that I perceived. I think he decided that if fire is common enough that our town has a standing fire department, it made sense to him to work on our family house fire plan.
I’m not sure if it’s nature or nurture, and of course I’m careful not to frighten children with conversations about, say, Ebola, but my older kids never thought things through in that way, so I’m thinking it may be partly genetic. Thankfully my grown ones do appreciate my way of planning and are completely on board – I think mostly because I feel happy and abundant when I plan and they enjoy being around that emotional energy.
Thus you can imagine my delight when I started looking at prepper sites because my youngest is having so much fun thinking things through this way! I’ve realized that there is even more I can do to ensure the well-being of the people I love and maintain our self-sufficiency – no one wants to be a drag on their community, I think most people want to be contributors. (As an aside, I thought a little bit about how people who are older or disabled could contribute in a TEOTWAWKI situation – one idea is to teach kids math, reading, science, etc. while the moms and dads are providing for a community and keeping it safe. Kind of like humans have done since the dawn of time. After all, there is a theory out there that this is one reason we have the lifespans that we have – grandparents help their gene pool survive.)
By reading Prepper blogs to be as supportive of my youngest as possible, I learned that the stuff I always have with me is called EDC! How exciting to find out it has a name! I learned that my get home bag isn’t entirely uncommon, that others have thought through how to get home on foot in a blizzard too, nor is my office, home or car gear a complete anomaly! What a revelation!
And, best of all, I didn’t know that BOB’s had a name! (I’ve maintained ours forever but only had to use them once – running away is a viable defense in an extreme circumstance.)
Anyway, by reading prepper blogs, I’ve also realized that there is even more I can do, notably things like hunting and trapping. I’ve never been if you can believe it but thankfully I live in a place where I can easily find a competent instructor to learn. (no guarantees on me actually bringing home the bacon, I’m a klutz but I promise to try very, very hard!)
But, interestingly, the biggest gap I discovered is that although I’ve been around the world in places that don’t have clean water, it never occurred to me to have my own water filtration supplies here. Talk about an incredibly big and potentially disastrous oversight! What a void of thought! So I now am the proud owner of multiple redundant water filtration methods.
So thank you to everyone for helping me see the gaps in my own plans, and as far as I can see, there is nothing weird about prepping in the least – in my humble opinion, there is nothing at all to feel self-conscious about when taking good care of ourselves and others.
I ask the question again – What could possibly be weird about making hay while the sun shines? Isn’t that what we built our mutual historical successes upon?