Saturday, April 16, 2011

Use Your Head

There are two ways to do things — the hard way, and the right way. Unfortunately, all too often in the face of a challenge we "macho up" and put ourselves in more danger than necessary. We do things the hard way.

That's okay, if your name is Superman and you can stand in front of a rushing freight train, stopping it in its  track without injury. But that kind of Hollywood thinking is what gets people hurt or killed. Let's take a look at s couple of examples:
  • You're out for an evening of fun when suddenly a ruckus gets started and fists are flying. 
  • You're on a day hike, three miles from your vehicle when an unexpected storm drops the temperature and rain starts falling hard.
  • While fishing in the middle of the lake, your boat overturns. 
In the first episode, you have a choice to make — you can stay and watch the fight escalate, you can join in the fracas, or you can quietly head for the door. Here's the truth — it doesn't matter if you know the hottest martial arts on the planet, you can still get yourself killed by some lunatic with a knife, a club, or a gun. Any real martial artist will tell you that the greatest form of self defense is avoidance. Get out of there before the trouble envelopes you. 

Second scenario — you can keep hiking through the chilly rain in the hope that you can make it to your car before hypothermia sets in, or you can stop and seek shelter to wait out the storm. 

Third — the boat is now upside-down, or maybe it has simply swamped. All small boats are mandated by law to have sufficient built-in flotation to keep them on the surface even if they are full of water. Your choices are to swim for shore or hang onto the boat and await rescue. 

In all of these settings, you can do things the hard way or the right way, and the choice is always yours to make. Make the right choice and you get out alive. Make the wrong choice and you probably won't. 

The title of this post is Use Your Head. Actually, if you use your head, you probably won't find yourself in very many nasty situations in the first place. The general principle is this: if I want to avoid dying of a drug overdose, all I have to do is never take drugs — right? 
  • So if I want to avoid getting involved in a bar fight, maybe I should make another choice about where I go for an evening of entertainment. 
  • If I want to avoid hypothermia because a sudden storm overtook me on a hike, I can make sure I have emergency survival equipment in my daypack so I don't have to depend on being able to find a suitable natural shelter. 
  • If I want to make sure I don't drown when my fishing boat sinks, I should always wear a life vest and carry a cell phone or two-way radio in a waterproof container so I can call for help. 
This principle can apply to every aspect of life. If we use our heads, we can avoid most of the problems in life — not only in the woods, but also in civilization. Most. I said most, not all. There are things that are totally beyond our control, and sometimes we get caught up in something even when we've taken every reasonable precaution. 

For those situations that are unavoidable, you need to be trained and prepared to dance to whatever music happens to be playing at the moment. There is no substitute for training and preparation. And getting yourself trained and prepared is the ultimate way to use your head. 


  1. I'll hang on to the boat for as long as I can but my skinny butt won't last long in these cold waters.

    There's worse ways to die though, like getting gut cut in a fight.


  2. There are things that are totally beyond our control, and sometimes we get caught up in something even when we've taken every reasonable precaution.

    Random events produce random results and consequences.