Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Art, Science, and Psychology piece.

Its time to discuss the Art, Science and Psychology of Survival.  The truth is that the title is reversed from the actual order of things.  Ill use the task of starting a hand drill fire for an example throughout this post.
Ill start with the psychology;  this part of the title as it relates to survivology is the most important step in the learning process.  It is the commitment to do, and it encompasses the prep work, study, research and internal drive to accomplish the task.

If you are starting a hand drill fire for the first time without the benefit of an actual instructor, or with one for that matter, you are certian to have some failures.  For starters you must select the right materials, get into the right body position, apply the right pressure, carve the correct size and shape notch etc, and that is just to get the ember.  Then you must drive to keep it up until the blisters are raised and broken, your arms are so tired that you can't move them only to suffer repeated failures.  After you heal you return back to the task and do it all again.  eventually you will get it if you stay committed.  It will happen!  That desire and drive is the psychological part of this process and it is usually the biggest hurdle to overcome.  It may not always be pretty but it will eventually get done.

The science:  Once you get it and attempt to repeat the task you will again have many failures.  By now you have built up a small database of potential pitfalls to avoid.  Now when you practice and that effort does not translate to the desired result you can study and refine the technique.  Rinse and repeat until you are succeeding more than failing.  All the time you are building that mental database and learning the science of friction fire.  In time you will be able to listen to the sound it is producing or the type of smoke or the size shape and color of the char and instantly know if there is a problem.  At this point you can experiment with materials that are at hand without exhausting yourself as before.  What you are doing is building a solid foundation in the science of friction fire. That foundation will help you progress faster in other methods of fire making.  All these experiences build off of one another and are transferable.

The Art;  This when you have mastered it to the point of it appearing effortless to onlookers.  When I used to teach survival in the Sierra I would not break out my tried and true bow drill kit.  I went on a walk with my students and carefully selected my materials to build the kit with them explaining every detail of my thought process.  Then I would put the kit together and begin to fine tune and trouble shoot it.  Sometimes I even created points of failure in order to have teaching points.  Then fire, like magic. When you reach a level of experience like that, it is called effortless mastery, which is misleading because it only looks effortless.  It is the result of countless hours of dedication and practice.  It appears that you have it down to an ART.

I have used a friction fire in this model but the basics of art, science, and psychology are essentially the same in all disciplines from playing a guitar to driving a race car.  Information is free but the knowledge is costly, it costs time, effort and resources at the bare minimum.  I hope that this helps you organize your training for your own personal growth.  Understand that those people that make it look easy started at the same point as you and only through diligent practice did they get to that level of proficiency.  The real cool thing is that the more you learn difficult tasks, the easier it is to learn difficult tasks later.  In essence you are learning how to learn. 

Survival is a discipline, of attitude, knowledge, skills and actions, survival is not mandatory!