Meet 7 year old Sailor Gutzler, all of her immediate family just died in a plane crash. Sailor is the sole survivor of the crash, that killed 4 souls on board, but not only did she just survive, which in and of itself is amazing, she walked through dense, cold, Kentucky woods to find help. I won’t get into to details about her medical state, because some reports say she had broken bones and others don’t. However, all reports agree she was dressed in shorts and a tee shirt, had one sock on, and a bloodied body. I was in awe while listening to her story. I was truly impressed with her agility and focus. I grew up in Redmond, WA and we used to play in the woods all the time. To imagine wearing (virtually) nothing, and try to find help in the pitch black is awe inspiring.
So what is it? The survival instinct, is something that just kicks in. You may not be privy to it in your lifetime but every individual possesses it.
Darkness can be crippling. That feeling you get when you can’t see your hand in front of your face can heighten anxiety. Sailor, had to walk through trees, and creeks in that pitch blackness. The cold can be paralyzing. Death can be shocking. To witness both of your parents and your older sister parish, and the fear that built up to the moment of the actual crash, can be hypnotizing. Sailor mentally blocked out all of that and her sole reason for existence was to get help for herself.
As a veteran, these kind of events were things that we spent weeks of training to prepare for. I used to always pay “not so much attention”, not because I didn’t find it useful, but because these qualities and needs to survive are things that every being already contains. Self-preservation; self-pres·er·va·tion
the protection of oneself from harm or death, especially regarded as a basic instinct in human beings and animals.
A basic instinct. These are the things that tie every living thing together. These are the things that someone else can’t take away from you. But, these basic needs are something that can’t be taught either. Yes, you can be given tools to make the basic needs not so “basic”. You can be given a platform to perform and reach ultimate means of survival like a Navy Seal, but you don’t need that. For some, self-preservation would’ve been, waiting in the plane, or by the crash site until the sun came up to look for help. That’s what separates leaders from followers.
Sailor, will grow up to be a beautiful young women. I know, it’s 2015 and everyone focuses on outward appearance (sarcasm). However, I’m talking about beauty on a much deeper level. Her beauty will come from heartache and pain of not having her parents and sister there, for some of the “important” things in life; like high school/college graduation, weddings, her first job, her first boyfriend, her first break up. Her beauty will come from self-confidence. The same self-confidence she showed to immediately find help for her family and to not wait until it was safe.
I know they speak of survivors guilt, but something tells me that this one will be ok.