Things I Like: Survivor Stories


Confession: I tried out for Survivor…Three times.

I know what you’re thinking, “That real life soap opera show where they leave a handful of schmucks to fight for a million bucks and give them nothing to eat except stale rice, bugs and cows’ brains?” No, I mean the ingenious social experiment that gives daring contesters the chance to find out what they’re made of by isolating them and stripping them of all but the barest of necessities. (Okay, so maybe they are the same show.)

Survive or Die

Some concepts inspire me by their very nature. One I keep coming back to again and again, packaged in different wrappers, is the idea of a survivor story. Remember Cast Away where Tom Hanks had to endure four years on a deserted island with only a few (strategically written) random items in Fed Ex boxes? Or Life of Pi – the story about the boy adrift for weeks (or months?) on a lifeboat with limited survival gear and a ferocious tiger aboard his vessel? There are even similarities in the true story of Aron Ralston, the climber who got trapped under a boulder in a tight canyon and was forced to amputate his own arm with a pocket knife.

I like stories that make me dig deep inside myself and search for the extent of my own capabilities. How would I survive if I had to capture my own food? What could I do with a pair of ice skates and a broken piece of a porta-potty? Could I sever my own arm if I had to? The last one may be a little extreme, but these kind of stories make my mind reel in excitement because they force me to explore the depths of my own creativity (aka ability to solve extreme problems by unconventional means).

How Creative Am I?

We’ve built this cushy life with all of our creature comforts and techno gadgets that we’d never ever dream of giving up, but somehow… Sometimes there’s still that desire for raw human challenges that creep into our fantasies and end up in our books and movies and news stories. The ironic thing is that for me, if I peel back all those layers, it seems to all come back to creativity. When pushed, when forced by necessity, how creative could I be?

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

  1. #1 by Amanda Jump on February 26, 2011 - 11:01 am

    I love this post and the ways that we are different. Certainly, I have my own fantasies. Sometimes they involve eating tree bark and building a hibernation tent out of snow, but more often they are things like moving to Iceland and raising sheep on a farm in the middle of nowhere. LOL. But for me, it isn’t about the creativity, and it’s definitely not about the problem solving – that’s the very least of my talents (by which I mean that I usually suck at it)! For me, it is simply about that challenge – the challenge of stripping away all of these modern conveniences, as well as ridding myself of the social chaos and noise, and trading it all in for a piece of land and some farm animals… my own little version of the garden maybe? ;-)

    • #2 by Becca J. Campbell on February 26, 2011 - 4:26 pm

      Guess we are different. Problem-solving kind of makes me go loopy with excitement. Also, the sheep herding and gardening sounds dull to me. Although the travel part sounds awesome. And all the natural beauty of scenic places.

  2. #3 by Courtney Cantrell on February 28, 2011 - 12:46 am

    Becca, I can relate. One of my favorite books growing up was “My Side of the Mountain” by Jean Craighead George. Total survivalist story. It’s just completely inspiring to think about living without luxuries and civilization, having to get by on one’s wits and whatever nature provides. I think that’s also why tales from the post-apocalyptic genre always fascinate me, too.

    I’m not sure if I’d be brave enough to try it all out myself, though. Maybe I’d rather just read about others’ adventures and live vicariously through them. ;) I’m completely impressed that you tried out for Survivor. You’re amazing!

    • #4 by Becca J. Campbell on February 28, 2011 - 1:06 am

      Ha ha. Yep. While I was pretty nervous, I was also really excited by the idea.

      I like the post-apocalyptic stuff for the same reason. Of course, I’ll readily admit that I’m much more comfortable living it all vicariously as well, through books and movies. I *am* pretty comfy on my own couch. But there’s always the “What if…?”

(will not be published)


Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.