How To Survive Western Civilization (Part One)



One day you’re going to find yourself out in the big, bad world.  What are you going to do?  How are you going to survive?  What skills might you need to make it from one day to the next?  I’m not going to lie; it’s going to be tough.

My first question:

Do you want to survive or thrive?

You can do both.  You will have to survive before you thrive.  Survival precedes everything.  You need to be alive.  Let me help you stay alive.

What do you need to stay alive?

You need food and water to stay alive.  Snickers has it right, you’re not yourself if you’re hungry.  Eat right, regularly, and stay hydrated.  Survival starts with these three basics.  Drink some water, eat right, and eat regularly.


Bring a sweater. Sometimes it gets cold.  Life gets cold and you’ll rarely be the one who is in charge of the thermostat.


Space is important.  Not for you, though, for other people.  Give space to other people.  Give other humans room to exist.  Call it the benefit of the doubt, grace, time, patience, or whatever you want to call it.  Space changes the dynamic of life.  Everything isn’t supposed to be slow dance.  Let something precious grow in the space, something that might nourish both you and someone else.  Dancing from a distance, give it a try.



You need to remember “again”.  Once is never enough.  One smile doesn’t do it nor does one wave.  Scrooge was visited by three ghosts.  If you want to change the world, multiply goodness.  Carry a box of matches.  One light, one action, one fire, one chance to spark a fire can illuminate total darkness.   Look at this guy.  He practices this look.  He should practice smiling, laughing, or waving. Again, I say, again.


Are you holding on to extra baggage?  Everything you’re carrying isn’t crucial to survival.  Ask yourself, “What is crucial?”  Do you need that scowl?  People who scowl die alone in civilization?  People who smile get help much quicker.    It doesn’t have to be a scowl.  It might be a tendency to make the perfect the enemy of the good.



If you’re not surviving, ask for help.  Survivors ask for help.  No real survivor lives in bunker or shelter alone.  Help is good.  You need it.   Ask.  Life is not like hiring a friend.  Humanity isn’t a commercial transaction.  People who help you, in this wilderness, shouldn’t want anything in return.  If they do, keep asking.

Conceptional chalk drawing - Help needed


You can survive in increments.  Here’s what I mean.  Today’s key to survival may mean taking a small bite of something, a tiny sip of life, or finding that inch of space.  Do another bit tomorrow.


Remember:  you can’t plan for the unexpected.  Plan for what you need.  Expect the unexpected.  Roll with the punches.  Get up again.  There’s that word…again.

Minimize risk by going to bed before two o’clock in the morning.  Nothing good happens at that time of night.  Put up your tent.  Find a pillow. Seriously, go get some sleep.  You’ll thank me.


Birthday cards tell you that age is just a number.  I’m telling you living isn’t about moving from crisis to crisis.  Life isn’t measured in moments.  Can you weave those moments together into a blanket to keep you warm at night?  Stop measuring and start learning.  Survival takes you into tomorrow and is practical.  Use the moments you made today, whether good or bad, to grow.

Know what to care about and what to blow off.  Do you chase the raven or kill the bear? Most of the things you taking up your survival time are inconsequential.  Be Kenny Rogers. Know when to walk away, when to run, and when to say, “you know what, I just don’t care, this whole situation isn’t healthy and I’m moving on to find people who love and care about me.”  Or some variation thereof.

You have flaws and limits.  Despite this, you can survive.   You can even have a good day.

End of Part One