It's month six of the chaos. Your tribe is at each others' throats, everyone is stressed out, and some of the fights have resulted in knives and guns being drawn. One of the men beat his girl to a bloody pulp, and she turned around and killed herself in front of some of the women. The women are terrified of the men now. You find yourself watching the sun set and wondering... what happened?
It's not that far-fetched. Humans are creatures that can become addicted to easy comforts and soft working conditions. You've been prepping for years, weeks, months, days... but have you prepped to stay human? Have you put back something as simple as a football?
Today we address something that seriously concerns me about our prepping community. I see countless articles about the best ways to store canned goods, take care of chickens that have an egg stuck, and endless debates that go nowhere over the best guns, but where does your humanity fit into all of this?
How are you going to stay feeling human? Have you even allowed yourself the understanding that you will need to continue to need to re-affirm the bonds of your tribe despite it's SHTF?
We humans are social creatures. It's built into us (regardless of how you think we came into existence, the need to be around another human being is there) to be social with members of our species. Even if it's only for a few hours every week, it's there. The pubs and bars aren't going to be there anymore. The libraries, the coffee shops, the TV, the internet, radio ... they won't be up and running for awhile, if ever again. What will you do for music? For entertainment?
BooksIdeally, everyone will be able to bug in. (Stay put, in other words.) Do you have a library you've built up a little bit? There are going to be days when the weather is so foul, you don't want to do your outside work. Or maybe you've managed to get done everything you wanted to do that day. So give yourself the treat of a few chapters of a book. Good places to go for such things are:
- Garage sales - You can find many of the older, harder to find books at such sales and for less than a few dollars (maybe even one of those one where is a box of books and a sign that says 25 cents.)
- Used book stores - Where I currently live (Los Angeles), there are dozens of lovely stores that have paperbacks for 50 cents and hardbacks for up to two dollars. If you pick up a book that is part of a series, be sure to make a note on your phone about which books you're missing and take them off the list as you find them.
- LIBRARY! - Once a year, if not more often, libraries hold a book sale. I'm unsure of the particulars on which books get sold, but it's another great way to get books of almost any kind - even old textbooks.
- Amazon.com - No, seriously. You can find, as long as you buy used, books on ANY topic at any level of skill and in any genre for fractions of their original prices. Like this one : John Ringo's "The Last Centurion", Thomas Bullfinch's Mythology (a massive wonderful volume of the myths), etc.
Books will play an integral part in keeping your mind and skills sharp. They can be incorporated into games for the kids and bored adults (think scavenger hunts and places to hide clues). They can be a weekend treat, when everyone wakes up on the official “we all take it easy day” and grabs something to read, or even just a box that gets pulled out when it seems nerves are ready to start fraying.
Yes yes, I know "Kindle/Nook have a month long battery yada yada yada". Have you gotten a solar charger for it yet? You do remember the Law of Murphy, yes? Then be putting back paper books my friends.
GamesFor the love of the God(s), store some games! Board games like Monopoly, Life, Scrabble, Chutes and Ladders, Candy Land, Uno, Battleship, chess, checkers, etc. Even basic playing cards are good to have.
Time taken to play games with those you are closest with in your tribe - be they lover, friend or child - are important, even today. These are bonding moments that cement relationships and help relieve tension. It can be one on one time or a fire team (er...four to six people. Eesh, can you tell my partner is a Marine? ) group bonding time. Hell, challenging that cute person (who you know is single when you're also single...) to a game of checkers can help break the ice to a new relationship and new bond that makes the tribe stronger as a whole in the end.
Games give you a means to make a connection with members of your tribes that you may not otherwise interact with. Even games that are more physically active like football, soccer, volleyball, baseball, Frisbee, hopscotch, hackey sacking (whoa, hey now. I'm a hackey-sacker. It's an incredibly good work out when you've five or more people playing and a good exercise on knees and hips that need a good dose of loosening up), basketball, etc. Games like those let out aggression that might be cropping up over what usually wouldn't be a problem, and help get tempers sorted out.
A good round of football does amazing wonders for the soul. (Yes, I preferred being a receiver but the guys I always played with had me be a tight end. They hated me being on defense because I was a damn good quarterback sacker. I always got my man… why are you giggling?)
Hackey sacking, when done with multiple people, tends to cause hysterical laughter as you stop being able to take yourself seriously and the humor is contagious. Also, hackey sacks and checker/chess boards can be easily made via crochet or knitting so try not to stress too much if these aren't already in your preps. I'll have patterns here very soon.
CelebrationsTrust me, you need them. Even if it's just the full moon, and a simple special treat at that night's meal to celebrate that months birthdays, celebrations are something that have been a part of being human since our inception. Whether you believe in creation or evolution, you know humans need times to hold feasts and celebrations. Be it a new baby, a partnership of two people made official to the whole of the tribe, a good harvest season, or the longest day and the shortest day of the year, you will need celebrations.
At this point I will ask you, do you have a means of keeping a calender figured out? Do you have at least a ten year calender set aside?
I advise that you find ways to keep track of four days: Longest day and shortest night; equal day and night (the equinoxes, the spring and fall); shortest day and longest night.
These will enable you and your tribe to keep a good handle on the seasons. Seasonal changes will affect you and tribemates - for example, getting enough sunshine in the winter.
Physical RelationshipsNow, I'll be the first to admit my thoughts on this may be a bit different than most people's. Being able to hug someone and then later at night have sex with them... that's a fact of life that you cannot ignore. At some point, everyone will be wanting to have sex with someone else. I am not going to tell you shouldn't. Hell, you might have a couple of lovers. I am NOT going to tell you it's wrong or right. It's your choice as to what you decide to do in that area.
Sex relieves stress and builds bonds between people. (Yes even for guys. Anyone who says that sex doesn't build bonds is so full of crap that it's beyond ridiculous.) Sex is normal, natural and for the love of God(s) do not be afraid of engaging in it. It's okay to hold hands, steal kisses on the cheek. You can even get creative and woo her/him again. Just listen when the rest of the tribe tells you to put the guitar up and stop trying to sing to them, mkay?
Play!Play games. Play hide and go seek with the kids. Play with the baby animals. Deliberately run the leave piles in the fall. Play will help you keep the world's weight on your shoulders from getting worse.
It helps you remember that you are a human.