Civilization is like a wave that builds out of the ocean. It swells and sometimes it collapses on itself. Then it crashes onto the beach. Finally, it recedes from whence it came and begins to build again. It’s hard for our modern society to understand SHTF Survival because they don’t understand this ebb and flow of civilizations over time.
I was reared in the hyper convenient, at arm’s length, suburbs of Philadelphia. You got what you wanted and you got it fast, so long as you could pay for it.
By 2010 I was living in Virginia, I fell for a southern bell. Still, I was about the opposite of an urban prepper. I had no SHTF plan and all of the emergency preparedness and zombie apocalypse talk was just outside of my reality. I left it in the fiction category.
Little did I know I was about to be possessed, literally and figuratively by SHTF Survival.
Upon buying our first home in Virginia we were doing our best to ship the mail back to its previous owners. It wasn’t a lot of mail but we were staying on top of it and felt it our duty.
Every so often a magazine would arrive with my neighbor’s name on it. It was called Cheaper Than Dirt. It was a very boring magazine to me because it was basically gun accessories. However, the back of the book was filled with survival gear.
The magazine would feature things like water filters, long term food storage, You could even buy gas masks and Gieger counters for nuclear emergencies. This blew my mind because it was thinning the barrier between this world of SHTF survival fiction and reality.
My wife played ice hockey in college and I played guitar. Our relationship was not predicated on the strong protector and petite helpless damsel. Though I was working out more, I didn’t know how to fight or shoot.
To society, I was a married man and a homeowner at 25. In reality, I was still very much a boy from Delaware County.
Just before Christmas in 2010 we found out that we were having a child. By spring we knew it was a little boy.
At this point, I was receiving my own Cheaper Than Dirt magazine and I was really starting to research this world of prepping and survival. It was still a cold pool and I was not prepared to hold my nose and take that plunge.
Hurricane Irene smashed Virginia at the end of August 2011. We lost power for a week and there were trees down all over the place. Our son Carter was born just 3 weeks prior. We were new parents and we were unprepared.
At 25 years old I had experienced my share of failures. However, they all paled in comparison to the moment I was standing in my living room, in the dark, my wife was sweating and about as uncomfortable as a woman could be. My newborn son was swaddled in my arms, the formula running out and I was bludgeoned by reality.
We had help, we had family and we could go get more formula but my overactive imagination played through a disaster scenario, like an economical collapse, where we had to live off what was in our home. This was a simple inconvenience, a power outage. We weren’t living through nuclear war.
It was at that moment that SHTF Survival became more than a research project for me. I began to understand exactly why the man who lived here before me was receiving those magazines.
What I neglected to tell you at the beginning of this story was that the previous homeowner was dying when we bought the home. It was a very interesting circumstance but the home was once filled with another family and we were now filling it with our own.
After Hurricane Irene, I began to inspect our home. I bought some tools, of which I had none. I even explored the crawlspace underneath the house. Braving the black widows and copperheads, I maneuvered through the space, between water pipes and happened upon a large metal chest.
I pulled this large dusty chest out from under the house and stared at it for a while in the backyard. It was every bit like finding buried.
As I opened the lid it seemed to exhale and the crawlspace dust escaped into the air. I felt like Abel Trelawny from Brahm Stokers The Jewel of Seven Stars. It was like the spirit of the man who lived there before I climbed into my body.
The box was full of things I had no idea how to use. Metal game traps, a variety of blaze orange garments, tincture of iodine, mess kit, tarps, a single person tent that took me a year to open and discover. This was a little chest of SHTF survival items.
Forget the Exorcist
From that day on the possession grew and grew. I changed so much from the man I was before Hurricane Irene that I would have trouble talking to that person, as I am today.
I write about SHTF Survival for a living, I believe all people need to set aside money and time for preparedness. My preparedness level and physical fitness have radically changed in that time.
As the intrepid commander at The Prepper Broadcasting Network, I coordinate around 14 pieces of preparedness content per week. These could range from starting your own prepper community to fortifying your stockpile.
This story is not about pride but, to me, it is truly about possession.
There is no other way for me to explain the radical change that overcame me. Maybe it wasn’t the haunting spirit of the previous survivalist homeowner. I could have been possessed by ancient genetics that kicked on in peril while holding my firstborn son at the center of calamity.
Whatever enigmatic force caused me to ricochet, I give it the highest praise. The path of preparedness is like a sturdy vessel on which we can ride the uncertain waves of civilizations ebb and flow.
Either way, prepping, homesteading, SHTF survival, or whatever else you want to call it, has made my life and my family’s life so much more fulfilling.