Carry on in a Straight Line – A Lesson in Survival


Two stories that share the lesson of survival. Understanding your situation and the determination to continue will get you out of any difficulty.

In his last “The book of comfort”, author Matt Haig talks about a time when he and his father got lost in a forest in France. They didn’t have a cell phone and were panicking after hours of going around in circles. Then his father said, “If we keep going in a straight line, we’ll get out of here. And they finally did. Matt says he has since used this strategy as his beacon whenever he’s depressed or struggling. The determination to keep moving forward, rather than going around in circles, has always been of great help to him – in doubt, fear, depression or during a breakdown.

Later in the same book, Matt mentions the story of Juliane Koepcke, the 17-year-old girl who in 1971 fell from the sky in the Amazon rainforest while still strapped to her seat, when lightning struck. hit their plane. The other 91 people on the flight were killed, leaving her alone and a miraculous survivor. Juliane’s fall was cushioned by the jungle canopy, and she managed to break away, and using the skills learned living with her zoologist parents for over a year in the Peruvian rainforest, began her comeback. to civilization. In his book “When I fell from the sky”, Juliane says that despite her concussion and her injuries, she only knew one thing: “I have to get out of here… After the accident, I wanted to survive, and I did the almost impossible.

She remembered something her father told her: “When we really set out to achieve something, we succeed. We just have to want it, Juliane. This belief helped her navigate the terrible jungle with deadly snakes, spiders, giant rodents, crocodiles, vultures feeding on the dead, stingrays and piranhas, despite her own broken collarbone and a deep infested wound. maggots. She knew how to avoid snakes camouflaged in dried leaves, always sleep with her back protected, extract maggots from her wounds, swim in the middle of the river to avoid snakes on the banks and rays in the shallows…. She writes in her book: “My experience is this: When you are in the middle of a terrible event – and the more horrible it is, the more true it is – you just let go. Terror comes after… ”

In the midst of a bad situation, there is no room for panic or terror. A cold mind tapping into experience and wisdom – your own or gained – is the only hope to get out of a difficult situation. Let go of the emotions, stop overthinking. Be in the moment and take one baby step at a time. Self-awareness and knowledge are important. It was Juliane’s knowledge of the forest and her self-awareness that saved her, as Matt clearly points out. An average person in the same situation as Juliane may not have survived. But Juliane had the gift of knowledge of the forest thanks to her parents. In her own book, Juliane acknowledges this fact: “Without the knowledge and understanding of the laws of the jungle, I probably wouldn’t be alive today.

The instructions in these two stories aren’t much different – Matt’s dad asked him to keep walking in a straight line rather than in circles, and Juliane’s dad advised, “If you get lost in the jungle and you find flowing water, stay with it, take its course. This will bring you to other people. As long as you know what you want, keep going straight in a focused fashion, without getting distracted – and you’ll find your way. Knowledge gives you the weapon, and a sharp and alert mind the strategy to survive even in the most difficult situations. Matt Haig quotes Sun Tzu’s timeless advice from classic military treatise ‘The art of War’ – “Know your enemy.” This applies to all aspects of life. In the jungle of life too, understanding the adversities you face can help you successfully combat them; the lack of this knowledge can destroy you.

Juliane’s story is old, but when I found it in Matt Haig’s last article The Comfort Book, it allowed me to read Juliane’s book and appreciate once again the courage and agility of this young spirit, who refused to give up in the face of unimaginable difficulties and pains.

Of course, every situation requires new decisions, and Juliane’s survival skills don’t have to work in another situation for another person. But the real lesson of its story is one of relentless determination, self-awareness and clinging to the basic instinct for survival. This will never disappoint anyone!



The opinions expressed above are those of the author.



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