by Madeline Iva
Just finished an exciting dose of a “reality” series called Get Out Alive with Bear Grylls. The show involved different couples (father-daughter, father-son, fiancées, two buddies, etc) competing for half a million dollars by surviving the rigors of the wild in New Zealand. You can watch the entire season here on Hulu.
At the heart of this show was Bear Grylls. Some may already know him from his other crazy survivalist theme shows in days of yore—but Bear is a former British army paratrooper who knows his stuff when it comes to living off bugs or starting a fire in the middle of a rain forest. He knows all the
tricks of survival you’d ever want to read about but never actually do yourself.
Bear’s hot. It’s not just the British accent. It’s the way he embodies the principals that help people get through a tough situation. He’s positive, he’s competent, he’s convinced that the people with the best attitude, the biggest hearts, and the strongest will are the one’s who prevail.
Yet I’m not as drawn to his looks as to the engaging and sincere way he handles his contestants when they get that thousand yard stare and start to slide from reality contestant to future casualty victim. The show is not packed full of those moments. Mostly people are cold, wet, tired,
and worried about how much daylight is left. Yet now and again Bear has to pop in from time to time because people are going to be in serious trouble if they don’t tend to something immediately. They don’t see the danger lurking in how their present situation will affect their future peril, but he does.
He’ll pop forth at these moments, assure himself that danger is averted, and then stand aside to let people carry on.
There’s something about the uber-competent way Bear does this that just sends me. He doesn’t get all bossy. Instead he sees someone who’s seriously struggling and addresses it using this tone—this very particular tone that just kills.
It’s not condescending. It’s got a little liveliness in it – which snags the attention of the contestant lost in the fog of exhaustion and hurt.
He’ll ask a question and there’s a little distance as he waits impartially for the answer. He also has this thread of compassion weaving through his voice. In that pause while awaiting the answer, 100% of his attention is on the person. I find it heady. One could fall in love with a guy when he’s in that mode.
It happens so quickly but it shows a man at his best. He’s displaying leadership, yet standing back a little to allow the person to find their own inner grit if they can. But if not, Bear is there, ready to ‘shoulder’ a man in need.
Bear wants people to stay as dry, warm, and safe as they can. It’s a masculine form of nurturing — and again it just sends me.
At the camp meeting at the end of the week, he points out the lack of logic which prevented contestants from doing this. Then he sends the worst offenders packing, saying to the couple “You wouldn’t make it out alive.”
It is reality TV. We see people drink pee, we see people eat really disgusting insects, we see people call out when they’re starting to drown. Hypothermia is only a commercial break away.
On the other hand, people make these cool little bird nest canoes, they scale down cliffs, float down rivers, slip n slide down glaciers. They learn to build fires and be resourceful.
So what’s the big take-away from the show? Well, how to survive, of course. The two basics: stay positive and stay warm.
If you’re not warm when you sleep, you’ll wake up tired. If you’re tired, your attitude will suffer and your decision-making skills will suffer. It’s all down hill from there.
The corollary to staying warm means staying dry whenever possible.
Here’s where creativity comes in to play. Since I’m a semi-pyromaniac, I’m fascinated by fire building challenges. Apparently there’s so much creosote or other flammable elements in so many things in nature, you can build yourself a fire with little but a flint and a knife –even if it’s raining and everything is wet.
Stay dry also meant building effective shelters at night. Again, people were not as creative as they could have been in exploiting near by materials. Branches, leaves, ferns, grass and even snow are all excellent insulators. You lose heat through the ground, so one barrier on the bottom is worth two on top.
Staying dry meant being cautious about getting wet. Two contestants never seemed to learn this lesson–they’ll probably regret it for a long time to come.
What do you think your greatest challenge would be if you were lost in the wild somewhere and had to survive? Leave a comment below.
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