Before we get started here on this page, I want to clarify something. I am not a nutcase, at least I don’t think I am. Perhaps this is open for debate.
Years of self-guided research into environmental issues and a tendency to have an affinity for dystopian future-based novels has naturally led me to mentally examine the state of the world, time and time again. Most often, I think the outlook doesn’t look too hot (or… it does look too hot which is most of the problem). I can’t help but think that something really bad may one day happen.
Climate change will wreak havoc on the world as we know it. A virus will be released that will wipe out a large proportion of humanity, such as in Stephen King’s The Stand or against the Hork-Bajir in Animorphs. World War Three will kick off, or people will rise from the dead and devour us all.
I don’t know what the future holds. I am not a psychic. Psycho maybe, but not psychic.
In these mad and unsettling scenarios, I often wonder what my own chances of survival would be. I mean, a virus type thing I’d have no control over – that’s genetics. Yet, how skilled am I when it comes to basic survival?
This is the thing that bothers me. In our technologically enhanced lives, we are becoming more and more reliant on convenience. We look to electronic devices to solve all our issues for us.
Don’t know where you’re going? Ask Google Maps. It will tell you exactly how to get to your destination – you don’t even have to think about what you’re doing! And as such, you’ll never learn your way around the area that you live in and forget about ever knowing how to read a map again.
Don’t fancy cooking when you get home from work? Just order in some Uber Eats or Deliveroo! The convenience of it is all too much that you may find yourself doing it several times a week. So much for knowing how to cook.
As long as funds aren’t an issue, any problem you have can be rectified by throwing money at it until it goes away. You can pay someone to clean your house, repair your car, fix anything that is broken.
I hope you’re beginning to realise now that the above paragraphs and title of this post, were just hopefully an eye-catching phrase underlying a much deeper issue.
In asking: “Could you survive a zombie acopolypse?” the real question is – How useful are you?
And if push came to shove – could you fend for yourself?
This is a topic that I spend an almost unhealthy amount of time thinking about. Because, I’m not so sure I would survive an apocalypse. For one thing, I only have four cans of tuna and one of tomato stored in my pantry and I don’t even like tomato, although if push came to shove, i.e. I was starving, I’m sure I might deign to eat it then.
But all in all, the older I get it seems the more useless I become.
It wasn’t always the case. When I was younger, I learnt how to drive around the cities I lived in using a big street map book – remember them? I got lost so many times, turned down many one-way streets in error and even got pulled over by the police once for making a right-hand turn into a street where that was prohibited (they let me off with a warning – I pointed out you couldn’t see the sign because someone had already run into it and it was bent backwards out of view).
However, I eventually got to know my way around these places pretty well – my knowledge of these cities rivalled those of the black cab drivers in London, way back when. I don’t have a car now and I’m not sure if those street maps even exist anymore, or it’s all down to GPS now. Basic navigation skills. That’s one pretty important skill we’re losing as a society, right there.
I also used to be able to gut and fillet fish, thanks to a job I had working in the seafood section of a supermarket in my teens. That is a skill that might still be intact, if a recent taxidermy class has taught me anything.
I can ride a horse and hypnotise chickens, which is pretty bloody cool. Thank you, childhood years spent in the countryside. I owe you a bunch.
Plus I can swim, because Australian.
That being said, I had a car for eight years and never learned how to do basic things – like change the oil or a tyre. I don’t know how to light a fire and make it continue burning and it would also be pretty neat to do it without a lighter. I haven’t properly camped outside since I was nine years old (glamping however – hey, hey hey!). I’m pretty useless when it comes to fixing thing. I don’t know what needs to be done in the case of a medical emergency, apart from call 000 (the emergency help line in Australia). I was a blue belt in karate at the age of ten, but I’m pretty sure I’d lose in a scrap these days.
In fact, my fitness levels are currently deplorable. I kill mostly everything I try to grow. Speaking of death (urgh) I eat meat but am not sure if I’d be able to ever end an animal’s life, well besides a fish. Hypocrite, much?
All those travellers who wax lyrical on how much travel teaches you… ahem. They may have a point.
I think travelling often definitely helps you to cope well in what could otherwise be upsetting situations. Thanks to travel, I’m now able to keep a cool head when bad things happen, like getting hopelessly lost or missing a flight. Well, so long as I’m not too tired and my blood sugar levels aren’t super low, that is.
The way you travel probably helps too. If you’re living the high life, flying business and staying in five star hotels and resorts, then your skills (apart from spending copious amounts of cash) might be limited.
If you’re roughing it somewhat – camping, maybe travelling by foot or bike and are a real adventure nut, then you’ll accumulate more skills. This means your chance of surviving the apocalypse are higher than rich people who are used to throwing money at a problem to make it go away.
I’m neither a high-flyer or a budget traveller – being mid-range, I fall somewhere in-between. My skills are thus so so.
I imagine if the apocalypse happened people would be unimpressed with me at face value because I’m not a doctor or carpenter or whatever and haven’t been camping for twenty years. But then I’d amaze them with my ability to catch and gullet inedible blowfish and they might re-think their opinion. Who knows. This is completely hypothetical and all.
Skills That Are Worth Having
At this point, you might have wondered what on earth has possessed me to write the majority of this post. This is a fair assumption indeed.
I’m genuinely keen to skill up a bit more. The other day my doorknob fell off my bedroom door WHILE THE DOOR WAS CLOSED and my friend and I had to MacGyver our way back in, which we managed to do without damaging anything. I thought “hey, it is cool that I can do this probably thanks to hours of reading crime fiction novels. I wonder what else I am capable of if I actually put my mind to it?”
So, here are some skills I would like to learn over the next couple of years, so
if when the apocalypse comes I’ll actually be ready.
- Grow herbs without killing them.
- Start a campfire without burning everything in the vicinity down.
- Put up a tent without getting frustrated and making the nearest person with a penis do it.
- Jump start a car and change a tyre.
- Relearn how to read a map and work on improving my sense of direction.
- Use a compass.
- Some basic self-defence.
- Also some basic first-aid.
- Sew without making a mess of it.
- Knit a pair of socks.
- And for “fun” – go for longer bushwalks without complaining about hip-pain or fuelling my apathy toward general exercise.
Plus maybe also stockpiling my pantry with foods I actually like.
Apocalypse, give me two years and I may actually be ready for you.
In all seriousness, are there any practical skills that you wish you were better at? Has travelling improved any of these for you, or were you just born handy? And how do you think the world is going to end?
Slightly amused by this post? Stick a pin in it!