Monday, March 19, 2018

Lifestyle, hobby or something else?

After yesterday's podcast I kept thinking out time, optimism and preparedness.   To many people preppers are pessimistic nay sayers that are constantly forecasting the end of the world. Or at least the worst case scenario for the world.

So I have been thinking about preparedness as a mind set. In one of my earlier blogs I commented on prepper websites and their use of tabloid style news to get eyes on their pages. From the comment sections I tend to picture the average reader of those sites to be a 50+ year old man who may live in a house with a white noise generator, tin foil on the windows, way too many Confederate flags and a lack of proper hygiene.  But perhaps I am over analyzing.

One thing is apparent. These guys see doom and disaster around every corner.

How much time do you spend on preparedness?  1 hour a week?  1 hour a day?  Maybe an extra 15 minutes at the grocery store picking up some items with a long shelf-life? Is it a priority?  Or is it something you do when you have a bit of downtime?

If it is a priority, how much of a priority?  Do you think about it more than bills? More than planning meals?  More than work?

I am not going to argue what is the right amount for you.  That is between you, your family, your bank account and your schedule.

However, for myself, I have had to take a look at my own prepper philosophy.  As I have mentioned before, I do not hold to a single 'event'  philosophy.  Many preppers have an event that they have forecasted: economic collapse, EMP/CME, WWIII, an earthquake with hemispheric if not world wide effects, Yellowstone caldera eruption, and it goes on and on.  I myself have no idea what is most likely to come. My powers of divination, prophecy or prognostication can't guess the next card in a pile containing only 5 cards let alone what will happen in the coming year.   From what I have seen on most of these sites, the "experts" are not much better.  Weekly they predict the next card will be a joker and weekly they are surprised when it is just a 3 of clubs or some other mundane card. Those who are really out there will predict a "Draw 4 card", because they have convinced themselves that someone slipped an Uno deck into the game.  They have never seen an Uno card and Uno cards look completely different so it would be obvious, but they are sure that in that standard deck is one Uno card waiting to jump out.

So what is the proper amount?  When does the proper amount become too much? When does a hobby become a fixation?

I think it starts to happen when we let preparedness get in the way of life.  If you put off trips, or avoid investing your money longterm, or when your career is effected.  If you are surfing the web for freeze dried food instead of taking customer orders, this could be a sign.  Or perhaps you refuse to pay your bills with cash, check or credit card.  Choosing to only pay in gold or silver. This can put a real dent in your day to day living. Is there a public utility that accepts this as payment?

I understand that some people out there suffer from PTSD centered around events that they are now vigilant to prepare for.  I can not speak to these.  My knowledge of psychology and psychiatry is no where near sufficient. So I stay out of the deep end of that pool.   There are many people in the Joplin area that were deeply effected by the 2011 tornado. To the point that this time of year brings a hyper vigilance. They can not watch TV shows about tornados or even the movie Twister. People in this situation have my sympathy.

However, there are others that prepare for things that might never happen.  Extremely focused on an end of the world scenario that possibly will play out and more than likely will fizzle out.

Personally I think of preparedness like I think of my fire plan.  I make sure the smoke detectors work, fire extinguishers are in place and charged.  I have fire safe storage for documents. I hope and pray I never have to use these.  Much the same way I hope and pray I never have to use the gun in the quick access safe beside my bed. Once these things happen, people are not the same, so I hope I never have to utilize any of these preps.

I sincerely pray that my kids are going to grow up, get careers and families never experiencing how bad things can get.   I live everyday hoping that they will never loose any of their friends or family to a needless accident or horrible crime.  But it can happen.  I don't want my family to have to scratch out an existence working day to day just to eat.  But it can happen.  It has happened. In some places it is happening. So I prepare.

But if I miss out on my kids growing up, I miss out on time with my wife,  I miss out on my grandchildren all because I was too focused on what might happen, what have I really gained? 

Now I do keep a get home bag in my truck.  I  drive 30,000 miles a year, so it seems like I should be ready for on the road events, and it has paid off more than once.  I examine this bag about 3 times a year, especially when the weather changes. For example, now that is warmer, I have removed the large heavy wool blanket.  I have replaced it with a lighter blanket that is easier to pack and carry.  Come next winter, I will change it back. But I don't repack it daily based on the forecast.  I don't check my fire extinguishers everyday, but I know they are there.  I don't test fire my gun everyday (as much as I wish I had that much range time) but I know it's there.

Now there are some activities that achieve more than one goal.  I hike weekly with a backpack simulating my get home bag.  This gives me the piece of mind to know that should I need to I can hike 8 miles in under 2.5 hours with no issues. Plus it is a nice work out, and it gives me 2 plus hours to talk and solve the world's problems with one of my best friends.   I would call that a prepper hat trick.   You could say the same for gardening.  You get to raise your food, can if you choose, eat a healthy meal, plus there is something spiritual about raising your own food, using your own labor to coax your own sustenance from the soil.   You may have other hobbies that cross preparedness with time to just be you.  As I mentioned in the last podcast.  I am believer in alone time.  I believe that hobbies are important.  We can't run on the hamster wheel all the time.  We need time slow down and enjoy just being us.  Even a cat in a room full of laser pointers has to rest at sometime. We are not meant to go full board all the time.  For our physical and mental health, we need time to reset and recharge.

Perhaps that is a walk, prayer, meditating on the blessings that surround you.  Or maybe it is building something with your own hands, conquering a challenge or just organizing your tool box. Eventually we have to have faith that it is ok to take some time for yourself.  You can't save the world alone and your can't do much if you are exhausted.  An hour here, 30 mins there,  or even 2 hours on the trail will not change much as far as the world is concerned, but for you the benefits can be huge.

When do we have enough preps that we simply know they are there?   What is your outlook? How much do you think is the right amount?

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