Drawn to the Dark and Creepy

DSC_0634When I was a younger smart-alek, I used to flippantly tell my mom in response to her fears for my safety, “I’m growing up in the house of Chicken Little.”

In case you never heard of Chicken Little, he was the star of his own story: a little chicken who was… chicken. Everything was a potentially disastrous situation, and he was chock full of fear and foreboding. The one refrain he repeated was “The sky is falling!” which has since moved into common culture.

I would chirp that phrase when my every planned move was met with a rundown of all the disasters that could befall me.

Me: “I want to walk up to the store.”

Mom’s face stretches into a mask of horror: “Not by yourself! Some pervert could force you into his van and no one would ever know what happened to you. You should go with a friend.”

Me: “I am going with a friend.”

Mom: “Just you and your friend? Why, they snatch up girls walking together, too. Didn’t you hear about…”

Or, it could be something like a truck’s failed brakes just as I’m crossing the intersection that could carry me out of this world, or some other hypothetical situation. But guaranteed, the scenarios were always grim. Of course, there was truth in these fears, and I’ll give some latitude here. It’s not until you have a kid or become close to your tiny relatives that you really understand–in vivid, nightmarish detail–just how dangerous the world can become in a nano-blink.

My mom inherited her chicken-little thinking from her mom–a serious pro at it. Whenever we told Grandma about an upcoming vacation we had planned, she would ask where to. No matter where we were headed, she would inevitably say, “I just heard on the news…” and then fill in the blank with some catastrophe or strange happening. Tsunamis in Dubuque, Iowa. Forest fires in Daytona Beach. Mountain lion attacks in Charleston, South Carolina. UFO sightings in Dismal Swamp.

I’m not sure what radio station she listened to for news, but it was with a cloud that we’d leave on vacation, knowing Grandma wouldn’t rest easy until our return.

So, I was raised on a diet of the potentially dark and creepy. Because let’s face it, underneath our veneer of civilization and social interconnectedness, there’s a web of the stuff to ensnare us if we’re not careful.

If you have a leaning toward the dark and creepy, please visit a collaborative project I’m involved in at www.waterfrontwriters.com. Our Two Weeks to Rites is featured, and we try to post a chapter a week. We’ll continue to do so, unless of course the UFO’s from Dismal Swamp snatch us up for special alien scientific testing…

The Number One, Must-Have Survivalist Tool

Doomsday Housing Plan / Image courtesy of Duron123 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Doomsday Housing Plan / Image courtesy of Duron123 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I attended a Preparedness & Survival Expo in August.  One excellent speaker, Jay Blevins, who has been featured on National Geographic Channel’s “Doomsday Preppers,” talked about the 6 foundational aspects of prepping. At the top of the survival list?

Having the proper mindset.

This means having the will to survive, even when things get downright ugly, insecure and uncomfortable–and in the event of a ‘doomsday’ scenario, they inevitably will.  Having a strong mindset allows you to handle being outside of your comfort zone and losing your creature comforts.  That’s not a bad life skill to have for just everyday scenarios that can be their own scaled-down, personal version of doomsday, such as job loss.

I know I’ve gone soft in terms of handling anything outside of my comfort zone.  I’ve been running my writing consulting business by day, and working on my own writing on the side, including a collaborative effort at the Waterfront Writers website.  I’ve noticed that the outdoors features prominently in my stories.  Maybe that’s because lately, my outdoors pursuits have fallen by the wayside, and I feel the lack of connection with nature in my life and that sense you get of being able to find your way if needed.  In my comfortable world, this present shifting of priorities has been a good thing on the one hand, but also a mini-trauma–one I can luckily undo by shifting priorities around a bit so I can re-connect to the outdoors.

One thing I used to do to get out of my comfort zone is to go camping.  I didn’t go camping this year–and I realize that isn’t sufficient preparation for having a survivalist mindset when it’s only car camping.  But there was no way I was going to get my son to backpack, so I was always happy to just get the little gamer that far out of reach of a game console.  I have, however, had survivalist scenarios occur while car camping, such as camping next to neighbors where I wasn’t sure about their survival prospects after I’d listened to hours of their noisy shenanigans well into the night.  But I digress…

In a doomsday scenario, you may have only the bug-out pack on your back, and the only fire pit and picnic bench at your disposal will be what you create out of what you find.  And with that, you’ll need a mindset that accepts the situation and flows with it.

Car camping does serve to take me out of my self-created bubble world and remind me that I still have a lot to learn about self-reliance–and that means above and beyond earning a living.  My mindset is just fine for the daily dramas of life.  But you can always be mentally stronger, and it’s an area I want to explore more in-depth.

But not tonight.  I need a hot bath, a steaming cup of tea and then a little television.

How about you: do you feel you’d be mentally prepared should complete chaos and anarchy occur? Leave a comment! And if you don’t mind, go take a look at the website I’m collaborating on – we have four chapters posted for our new web series.  Help me justify my ‘gone soft’ condition on the Waterfront Writers