Discovery Channel has a new viewer. Once a week is Survival Night and I have discovered that Discovery can keep me hooked, programme after programme. I have learnt how to light fires from lipstick, how to cover my tracks in a jungle and how to keep my spirits high in arctic conditions. I am pretty sure that I will never need any of these skills but I feel a more rounded person carrying the knowledge. I am in awe of the people who can be dropped in the middle of nowhere with nothing but their instincts and knowledge to guide them and it got me thinking about the survival techniques I witness in everyday life which are no less awe-inspiring but for very different reasons.
When I arrived here I started a distance learning course with the London School of Journalism. One of the assignments was to interview someone with an interesting story. I was spoilt for choice and remember being overwhelmed with the amount of stories available from the people in Israel: From the families who escaped pogroms and the Holocaust; Those who arrived with Zionist ideals and started socialist communities, those who arrived overland, hidden in donkey carts after travelling for weeks, the list goes on and doesn’t stop with the older generations. I have met and talked to people whose life experiences far surpass any survival story on Discovery for their real lives have been a form of survival.
I believe that human beings are by nature a brave species. The modern world has worn down our edges and made us lazy and reliant on machines, technology and others for our comfort and safety but hidden within all of us there is courage and the ability to succeed even in the most difficult circumstances. Israel is a story of survival, of a country and of the individuals living here.
Every morning I meet a man walking his dog. He is proof of a person’s courage and ability to succeed. He moved to Israel from the UK only a couple of years ago. He is in his mid thirties, married with 2 dogs. I first met him about 6 months ago in the local post office. He and his wife were taking back a parcel that had been wrongly delivered to them. They didn’t speak Hebrew so I helped them out. They had picked up the parcel from the post office the previous day and on opening it had realised that it wasn’t for them. Why didn’t they notice it wasn’t addressed to them? Because they are both registered blind.
They both have guide dogs, neither of them speak the language, yet they chose to move countries with all the bureaucracy and red tape that entails and they are happy they did it. I do know that they live alone and that they deal with the same ups and downs of living in a language that they don’t understand as I do (and constantly moan about) with the added burden of their lack of sight. It puts my grumbles to shame and reminds me that in so many ways a Positive Mental Attitude is just about always the key to success.
Their story is a happy one, they came here through choice and are content here, but that makes them no less brave, they show amazing courage and are an inspiration to me. They also have more in common with the survival experts than you may think; they may not be abandoned in the Himalayas with only a pen knife but survival means after all, existing successfully in adverse or unusual circumstances. Living in Israel is certainly unusual, for me at least.