So I decided to send the guys who make the tv reality show “Alone” an application. If you haven’t seen the show, it’s a very simple concept. They drop 10 people off in the wilderness, each with a satellite phone, and the one who stays out there the longest, wins 500.000 USD. You’re allowed to bring 10 items. You can tap out by calling the production team at any time, but then of course someone else will win. Also, they come and check your health once a weak and they will pull you out of the competition if you’re in danger of permanent injury from starvation, accidents and so on. I love this show and the concept — it’s the only thing I’ve been watching on tv during the last few weeks.
I do not expect to be picked, simply because there are probably thousands of people who are applying. Also, I do not view myself as a survival expert. I am quite confident when it comes to survival and bushcraft in northern climates and as a Norwegian I actually find it much easier to survive and thrive in sub zero temperatures, but I would struggle in warmer areas like for instance deserts and inland savannas. I know I would be okay if the location was by the sea, since I could then forage for seaweed, mussels, limpets etc and when I had to, also catch fish, but I would have a really hard time inland in warmer climates. I’m simply not an inland person. And I believe a survival expert should master all the world’s climates and different areas.
When it comes to the mental part, the fact that you’ll be alone for a long time, I think that I would be okay. I have been alone for extended periods before, although not for months. But I have noticed that there are basicly two kinds of people in this world. The most common is, obviously, the socially adaptable person. If you’re socially adaptable, you like being around people and you wouldn’t be so happy about spending some weeks in isolation. Then there are the hermit type of person, and those are (luckily) rare. If you’re the hermit type, you can feel your skin starting to itch only after a few days in the company of other people. I’m that kind of person, I must admit. It’s not something I’m proud about and it’s been a handicap all my life. For example, I’m at a hotel now and I have been for two days, and the fact that I’m always near other people almost makes it hard to breathe. (This is, believe it or not, one of the most important reasons why I became a novelist.)
I don’t know the people who have won the three seasons of “Alone”, and I might be wrong about this, but they don’t seem like socially outgoing people. Also, they’ve all been big, bearded, chubby family men in their late thirties or forties. Some women have also done extremely well, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, since evolution has made the female homo sapiens a natural survivor — she would be caring for the offspring long after the men had perished from starvation, illness etc.
Also, it is interesting to see how those I like to call high energy people don’t do well. Those who are running around in the woods, shouting to the camera and acting like a baboon will burn their calories, starve quickly and/or injure themselves. Survival is a race that only a turtle can win. And the ones who’ve done well have all been preserving their energy. You can actually see it in the way they move. Even those of the participants who were skilled hunters and trappers, probably spent more kcal on setting traps and hunting, than they gained by eating the animals they caught. In fact, I don’t think anyone has been successful with traps yet, and I don’t think anyone has managed to kill an animal with the bow and arrows that they are allowed to pick as one of those 10 items. Which is a good thing, since I believe that most people shouldn’t be allowed to hunt with a bow, they’re simply not skilled enough.
If the unlikely should happen that I get picked for Alone, I would not view it as a spritual journey, as some of the participants have claimed that they did. In the end, it all boils down to the 500.000 USD. However, I wouldn’t be motivated to starve myself just to have 500.000 USD to spend on myself. But I have two kids, and being able to give them each 250.000 USD, would be more than enough motivation. Some years from now, they could spend those money on buying each their house. I like that idea.
-Bjørn Andreas Bull-Hansen
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