Wednesday, March 5, 2014

All Is Lost

I stopped at the library on my way home from my CPR renewal class last night and picked up the movie All is Lost with Robert Redford. The librarian warned me it was boring but I wasn't looking for spectacular, just something to relax on the couch with and my son loves ship wreck movies.

She was right. It was pretty boring. My son--the lover of ship wrecks and storms--fell asleep on my lap ten minutes into it and my daughter just snuggled next to me and would rather look at text on my cell phone that she couldn't read than watch the movie.

When my husband got home I was telling him about it and though I admitted it was boring I said, "But it has some good learning points for pretty much anyone." I fell asleep thinking about them and figured I'd share this morning.

Don't worry. I won't spoil anything if you actually want to watch the movie but for those of you who don't (or have never heard of the movie), it's the story of a lone man on a sail boat who has an accident out at sea and pretty much everything that can go wrong eventually does. I'm no sailor so I can't tell you what the character did technically right or technically wrong, etc, but I can say there were a few things that stood out to me.

1. He had the equipment on-hand to handle almost every emergency he faced. 

And it wasn't a bunch of McGyver fixes either. The movie opens with a hole being smashed into the side of his boat. He is able to patch it with what looked to be a legitimate hull-patching kit. When he's forced to navigate without a computer he digs out a sextant (yep, I had to google what that was).

At every step of the way, when a new emergency arises the character rather calmly goes to this or that nook or cranny and pulls out this or that tool which was made to assist in that particular emergency situation. Yes, the movie could have been made more interesting if he had to make up all of these emergency preparations along the way but I was far more impressed with a movie portraying a prepared individual vs a clever fool.

The take away of that is, of course, to have the right tools for the job. When it comes to self defense not everything can be solved using any one tool. Having things like flashlights, spare magazines, pepper spray, medical supplies, guns, knives, give you options for all sorts of emergencies that may come up.

2. What broke he tried to fix but didn't dwell on it.

When the hull is damaged he attempts a patch, when the radio breaks he attempts a fix. This pattern repeats itself quite a few times throughout the movie. But what was interesting to me was that the character didn't obsess over one particular repair for any undue length of time. If his repairs weren't successful and it wasn't vital to life he moved on.

This has an application to many different aspects to self defense starting with the equipment we use or even the way we handle the initial contact of a potentially dangerous person.

Your gun jams. You clear the jam. It jams again. You clear it. You repeat the pattern over and over again instead of changing to something more useful.

You see someone approaching and you tell them to stop. They don't stop. So you tell them to stop again and again and again and again. You get stuck in a rut of commands instead of moving on to something that might actually put you in a better position.

You shoot an assailant in the chest 16 times but he still doesn't go down it's probably time to target another area.

When something doesn't work the way it's supposed to work or doesn't go the way you planned it to go, it's okay to try to salvage that equipment, technique, command, etc, but only a very limited number of times. Getting stuck in a rut is unproductive. Move on.

3. He prepared in advance.

When he saw the storm coming he got on his wet gear, he tethered himself to the boat, he buttoned down the hatches, he filled his emergency water container, prepped his life raft, etc.

It goes without saying that most of us carry guns because we want to be prepared in advance for a self defense and/or lethal force emergency. But there are so many more emergencies out that that we don't prepare ourselves for that pose just as much or far greater risk to us.

If you see a questionable situation, avoid or put yourself in better position to get out or respond. Don't wait until it's all crashing down around you to act.

And this goes a lot further than self defense, too.

As winter is approaching, prep that car for snow and ice. In the summer, prep your car or house for heat related emergencies. Prepare for the common natural disasters in your area.

Prep your body to withstand the rigors of running and fighting if you can.

4. He had resources on hand for and to learn skills he didn't already have.

When the main character accepted that he would no longer have modern navigation at his disposal, he retrieves a nautical navigation book and starts to read.

Lot of people like to think certain things will never happen to them or that certain information isn't relevant to them. A lot of articles and discussions, classes, etc, are ignored because they deal with issues that aren't very unlikely. A good example of this is medical issues and supplies, law, abductions, etc.

Many don't carry medical supplies because they aren't trained and think it's useless to carry supplies they don't know for certain how to use.

I remember the moment I got a tension neumothorax needle. I told my friend, "I don't think I'll put this in my bag because I don't know how to use it." He said, "That doesn't mean there won't be a paramedic or nurse or someone else on scene who does."

He had a good point.

Just because you don't have a skill doesn't mean someone else doesn't. It also doesn't mean you can't learn a few things and put them into the back of your brain for the unlikely or have some other resources on hand to learn.

We all have spare tires in our cars. Many of us have no clue how to change a tire. But in the event of a need we all know we can go in our glove boxes, get the owner's manual and figure it out.

Invest in a few self defense law books. Get yourself gunsmithing manuals for the firearms you own. Get an emergency medical textbook. Have resources on hand to learn and supplies for those who may already be educated.

5. When his survival was on the line he improvised. 

Despite all the pre-planning, the equipment, the skills and resources there were a few situations where the character had things go wrong, he wasn't as prepared or his preparations failed and he had to make it up as he went along. In which case he improvised and came up with ways to survive.

Sometimes, when it's all coming to pieces we have to make it up as we go along. It may not be perfect. It may not be pretty but it might just get us out alive.

6. He put it all on the line. 

Again, without going into any spoilers, there comes a point in the movie where the main character pretty much throws all caution to the wind and puts everything on the line to be rescued.

Sometimes, despite all of our preparations and planning and equipment we have to make a bold move that will mean life or death. When that time comes it's no one's decision but your own and you'd better have made your peace with outcome either way.

1 comment:

  1. First time on your site. Very enjoyable read. Have a very minor nit to poke at. It's what I'm good at. If you have a car that is less than about 10 years old, there is every probability that it does not have a spare tire unless you purchased it as an option or picked one up at the junk yard. A few very new models don't even have a place to store a spare except to take up trunk space or the back seat. No spare means no jack or tire iron. The extra weight hurts gas mileage. I'm talking regular passenger vehicles, not trucks or SUVs.