It’s not so strange when you think about it. I’ve always admired people who build themselves from the ground up, whether it’s Gordon Ramsay, Bear Grylls, or Julia Childs. But survival isn’t just building a name for yourself. You don’t go to Mount Everest for the fame. You don’t foreswear your comfortable life in a well-to-do neighborhood to get likes on your Facebook page. You do these things to prove to yourself that you can.
I don’t think anyone in their right minds actually wants to wind up on a desert island. But how much more confident would you be in yourself if your boat sank and you were able to pull it off?
Try to understand that I am not, nor will I ever be, someone who romanticizes a situation. While I don’t pass judgment against, or criticize, Chris McCandless, I also don’t believe in running off into the wild and taking incredibly dangerous risks with what I put in my mouth (Although there is some debate as to whether or not the story about him eating an undocumented rutabaga wasn’t just speculation on John Krakauer’s part. I’m not weighing in on this).
It’s not that I watch Man Vs. Wild and suddenly think that I can take on the challenges of surviving in the Sahara. But just as I mentioned in my review of Naked and Afraid, the real test of our character is how well we rise to the challenge, especially when that challenge is to our very right to breathe. I will always watch these shows, gathering what little that I can, and reading the books and the blog posts, and admiring the people who willingly put themselves into danger to inspire or educate others, with the hope that something will sink into the part of my brain the retains knowledge for later use.