Nature Wants to Kill You

Photo by Susanne Nilsson, 2013

Listening to the podcast on “sisu” brought me three trains of thought. The first was along the lines of Granddaddy’s saying, “tired don’t count,”and that we would all likely be a little better off if we thought that way a little more often. That tied in with an old Wayne Dyer talk I heard where he talked about monks (Tibetan?) who regularly practice austerities in order to prove that they are stronger than their circumstances.

Nature wants to kill you. If you stop and think about it, just about everything in nature is trying to kill you. It shouldn’t be a surprise, life is trying to kill you and will succeed one day – but that’s another story. Nature wants to kill you. Truthfully, nature doesn’t want to kill you but it is very much open to killing you if you get in its way. Whether it is a wild animal, the weather, insects, falling rocks… whatever, nature just doesn’t give a snot whether you live or die. And when you go out into nature, you absolutely must understand that rule. If you disrespect it, you will pay. If you ignore it, you will pay. If you don’t prepare… you will pay.

We have a number of people in our society who don’t think that is fair. And Lord knows everything is supposed to be fair these days. They believe it is only fair that they should get to pet the pretty kitty in the zoo… or that cozy looking bison at Yellowstone. And then, when they get bitten or gored or trampled, they don’t understand. They think we live in a world of pets. But those wild animals are part of nature. And nature wants to kill you.

A hurricane is a playground, right? Great surf! Why not? It’s your moment to go viral. Or a tornado, you can get a great picture of a funnel cloud. Even just the heat of the summer or the cold of the winter… if you don’t bring the right stuff with you, you could wind up in pain or death… what’s the worst sunburn you’ve ever had? Lightning strikes, flash floods, whatever… nature wants to kill you.

A beautiful day at the beach has a rip current… or sea urchins… or sharks… polar bears, so cute and cuddly… and they’d just as soon eat your face.
Falling rocks, falling trees, slippery surfaces, spiders, snakes, fire ants, ticks, fleas, poison ivy… hopefully you get the drift. Nature wants to kill you.
And, perhaps, just perhaps, that’s part of the allure of going hiking or swimming or camping. Going out in the midst of all that danger and overcoming. There is no negotiation with nature. She comes at you with however she likes and you just have to deal with it. You can prepare but there are no guarantees. You will likely be cold, wet, hot, sweaty. You’ll get blisters and bug bites and cuts and scrapes. But when you survive, you come out stronger.

You see in this modern world we live in today, people want everything to be comfortable. We want things to be easy. There are compromises everywhere. The rules can always be bent to make it a little easier, a little more comfortable, a little more safe… a little more soft. Nature doesn’t compromise, nature wants to kill you.

You can get anywhere these days without much effort. It might take money, but it won’t take much struggle, unless you consider having to fly without a cup of coffee on your flight. We want to say were were there as easy as possibly, but is that really what’s best? The easiest way is rarely the best way and never the most fulfilling way. If you don’t overcome something, you don’t overcome anything.

Everyone should be able to get to Machu Picchu, it’s only fair. But I promise you, you will feel a much larger sense of accomplishment if you spend a few days hiking through the Andes to get there instead of the comfort of the planes, trains and buses that drop you conveniently at the front door. And if you didn’t fight nature at least a little bit to get there, did you really go?

Nature doesn’t compromise. In the game of the wild, Nature is the dealer and the house and you better come prepared to play by her rules. If you accept her rules, and you work with nature, you greatly up your chances of survival. Even then it is not guaranteed. And that is a huge part of the allure of going out into nature, off the beaten path.