The Will to Live of Extreme Survivors By John Steele

These books may be at the bookshops still, or maybe the libraries, or available by inter-library loan; Extreme Survivors (2013), foreword by Bear Grylls, and Les Stroud, Will to Live (Harper, 2011). Both books are collections of stories of people who faced survival situations, which pushed human endurance and ingenuity to the limits and how they succeeded or failed. Both books cover much of the same ground, with people lost in tropical rainforest, or deserts, or high on mountain tops, or at sea on rafts after ship wrecks. Extreme Survivors has a great mix with stories beyond the usual survivalist literature, such as the escape form Devil’s Island and Alcatraz, and war time escapes. There are amazing stories such as that of  German POW Cornelius Rost, who in 1945 escaped from a Siberian gulag, to spend three years on the run, trekking across the  frozen wastelands of Russia over 13,000 km, to eventually get back to Germany.

The common element in all these stories is that there is some quietly, true grit, an ingredient X, that keeps people going, refusing to give up. The inner spark could be belief in God, of simply a desire to see their family again, something that keeps them keeping on. Whether we all have this quality is essentially unknown until tested. It really does not depend upon how physically strong one is, while that helps, but is an inner spiritual strength that is drawn upon. Like the case of lone climber Aron Ralston, who was trapped by a falling rock, and had to cut off his own arm with a blunt pocket knife! This one made even me a little shaky. But the lad did it and survived, God bless him!

Read some of these fascinating stories and see what you think.

 

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Thursday, 15 April 2021
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