I sometimes watch too much television.
I sometimes watch too much television. I know that a lot of people think watching television is a waste of time but what can I say – I do it anyway. I particularly like some of the reality shows and by that I mean the ones that aren't blatantly staged and fake. The other night I just happened to catch one that intrigued me – it was called Naked Castaway.
The premise behind the show is that a trained survival expert is dropped off on a deserted island in the South Pacific with absolutely no supplies (even clothes) and has to survive for 60 days alone and without assistance. No reward challenges on this show. Now he does have an emergency medical kit and a satellite phone if he absolutely has to get off the island but other than those two things he is on his own. He has cameras that he uses to document his activities and his thoughts as he faces isolation and a real fight for survival.
I guess what really caught my interest with this show is that it truly is a test of survival. We read stories about people lost on a deserted island but now we can actually see what that might be like. I've only seen the first of the four episodes but already certain things have jumped out to me.
First off, this man is interested in only one thing – survival. He has to worry about getting enough food and water to sustain his energy and then make sure he has shelter and clothing. It absolutely takes us back to what it was like for our ancestors before any type of modern convenience was ever invented. His days consist of looking for food and finding a source of drinkable fluid (either water or coconuts) and worrying about whether or not he would find enough of both. In between he has to think about that shelter thing that I just mentioned. Even the other reality show survivalists quickly realize that shelter is vital to survival.
The second observation that quickly came to my mind is that this guy isn't worried about all the things that seem to consume our thoughts and energy on any given day. He doesn't worry about office politics or whether or not he can afford the latest gizmo. His only concern is survival and he has no problem with setting his priorities because if he doesn't understand what is most important then he won't survive.
The third thing that I picked up on is that the isolationism of being alone started to work on him after only a few days on the island. All of us from time to time want to be just left alone but most of us then start to crave human interaction. The ability to share with other people and to know that we aren't going it by ourselves is almost as important as the food, water and shelter.
Now obviously I wouldn't want to live like this guy, but I do think that we need to be repeatedly reminded of what is most important in life. And, when I say we I definitely include me in that. I am absolutely guilty of often times focusing on the urgent rather than the important things in life and sometimes I just don't know how to fix it. I am constantly running from meeting to meeting and place to place. Many times it seems that the rats win the race.
I have shared with many of you what it was like in West Africa and the impression that the experience has had on me. I can say that by and large the people had very little in the way of material possessions but they seemed happier with that little than many of us do with our abundance.
While I can say that I am a different person since returning from Africa, I can also say that I struggle daily to keep the right perspective in my life. I don't think the answer is to go live on a deserted island but I do think that all of us need to remember that as Americans we are spoiled beyond belief by the abundance that we enjoy and take for granted.
So the next time your blood pressure starts to rise because of some inconvenience that you have experienced think about what it would be like if you didn't have that inconvenience to be upset over. Doing that will most likely cause you to pause and maybe, just maybe, put things into a better perspective. Trust me, I'm going to do it myself and I hope it helps me.