Some Insight on Survival from Les Stroud

While driving in my car a couple weekends ago, I stumbled across a radio interview with Canadian filmmaker and survival expert Les Stroud discussing the Polar Vortex. You probably know Les from the show Survivorman, which he created, writes, directs, produces and films. Oh and he also stars in it, too. Les is a bad ass, and he knows a thing or two about survival.

When the radio host asked what advice he recommends in dealing with the cold that has plagued much of North America this winter, Les makes a couple suggestions in his peculiar accent. “Have a good chunk of cheese right before bed. You will probably wake up in about an hour and a half, two hours, almost sweating.” A practical tip I’ll use next time I’m shivering in my sleeping bag.

His other tip is more insightful. “You have to take responsibility for yourself. You might be in the middle of Toronto or New York or wherever. But when the things break down, you stand there and whine and cry and say ‘well it’s the government’s fault that I am cold this morning. It’s the government’s fault that I didn’t have an extra jug of water, even though it’s the middle of winter and I’ve heard from all the excellent news sources that we’ve had a cold snap coming.’ The biggest piece of advice is be prepared and take responsibility for your own preparation.”

I could not agree more.

Survival is largely based on self-sufficiency and self-reliance; in taking responsibility for yourself. We cannot always control the circumstances of our environment, whether it is the weather or the death of a loved one. What we can control is our response. We can control how we prepare and how we cope. Sometimes we are so focused on blaming or complaining that we do not even realize we have full capacity for solving and resolving.

“You won’t see me whining and complaining because the street cars aren’t running when it’s minus 50. It’s like, it’s minus fifty. They weren’t built for minus fifty, so let’s just deal with it and move on.”

Love this. It’s a a great reminder to accept and move one. I think a lot of issues in our society could be dissolved if each individual took responsibility for him or herself and the situation they are in, regardless of whether or not they were the ones to put them selves there. Things happen, and it is up to each of us to get through them.

“The earth is the earth. It is what it is. It’s not us against the earth. It never has been. […] We have to go with the flow and the rhythms of the earth. Take responsibility for yourselves folks.”

To listen to the full interview, go here:

What do you think?


  • His quote on preparedness hits home for me. When we suffered the blackout following the ice storm just before Christmas, we were woefully unprepared. You better believe that we now own a small generator, a battery operated radio, a stockpile of water and a stove top kettle (thank God for our gas range!).

    And, you’re right, if everyone just took responsibility for themselves…well, the world would be a less whiny place, that’s for sure.


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