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Four Years at the Mount

The Graduate

Survival vs. Comfort

Katie Powell
MSM Class of 2015

(8/2016) I am a very indecisive person. Picking three items to bring anywhere would be incredibly tricky for me. However, I think that I have it figured out. There are two instances that I have come up with: one in which survival is key, and another in which water food and shelter are a given. If survival were my goal, I would bring a fire starter, a fishing pole, and a machete. If shelter and the like were provided, I would be a little more frivolous: the three items I would bring would be a bathing suit, my iPod, and a warm blanket.

My family watches a TON of survival shows. Bear Grylls was first, then Naked and Afraid, then Naked and Afraid Extreme, then Alone. The whole point of these shows is to show that people can survive in the wild with literally one survival tool, and without clothes even. I would like to think that if I were forced into a survival situation, I would do okay. However, I know myself pretty well and I know that I am a huge wimp. All I can do is hope that if my life depended on it, I would be alright.

The second would be a fishing pole. Islands mean water, and water means fish. Fish are food. I would probably have the most luck catching fish rather than trying to hunt in these imaginary woods, so I think the fishing pole would be more helpful than a gun or other kind of hunting equipment. I love little animals and I would have a hard time killing them to eat. So, pescatarianism it is.

I would bring a machete. I have seen enough survival shows to know that you need a sharp edge to survive. Cutting up firewood, creating shelter, and gutting my fish for dinner all require a blade. The TV show, Alone features many survivalists choosing the machete as their weapon, and since I know nothing about knives, I would trust them. Sure, I have never used a machete in my life, but as I said before, I can only hope that if my life depended on it, I would figure it out.

Finally, I would bring a blanket. It probably seems silly to you that I would waste one of my survival items bringing something so unnecessary, but I think a blanket would be a great item. I could use it to keep me warm when it gets cold, I could use it as a roof to my shelter when it gets hot, I could wave it as a flag to catch someone’s attention. I could make a trap with it to catch food. Or, I could make it into a bag to hold berries or leaves to eat.

My first luxury item would be a fire starter. Fire would keep me warm, cook my food, purify my water, and help me signal to airplanes and boats that I was there. My ultimate goal while stranded would be to get help as soon as possible. A signal fire seems like a great place to start. Sure, I should be able to start a fire without one, but this is a luxury—any item that would make my life easier, I am bringing it.

I would also bring a bathing suit. I don’t mean a bikini, either. I love swimming. I started at nine and swam for a team until I was 22. Even now, I still swim and coach kids in swimming. It is a huge part of who I am. It has always been an amazing stress reliever for me, and 13 years of swimming competitively does not make it easy to stop the sport on a dime. If I were surrounded by water, I think it would make me crazy not being able to swim in it. While stranded on an island, swimming would help keep me sane.

The next thing I would bring is my iPod (ok, my iPhone, but exclusively for music. I don’t think Pokemon Go would work on an island). Similar to swimming, I have always had music as a way to escape stress in my life. I have playlists for different moods and activities like driving or cleaning my room. I love being able to lose myself in the moment (pun intended), to forget about whatever it is I have going on and sing along loud and off key. Stranded on an island, my favorite songs would get me through the toughest days.

Personally, I like to believe I am a survivor. I would like to believe that if I were stranded, I would be able to keep myself alive. Fortunately, I don’t think I will ever have to find out. If you were stranded on a desert island, what would you bring? Would you choose comfort materials or survival needs? This exercise says a lot about people’s personalities. What do you think it says about you?

Read other articles by Katie Powell