Time to pull back the curtain on my writing. I’ve been prepping for over 25 years, and I just hit a milestone. You know, the big one that comes with having too many birthdays to count. The one signified by discounts at the local coffee shop, and an AARP card in the mail. Yeah, that one!
All kidding aside, the last six months have been a time of reflection. Not surprisingly, the state of the world has greatly influenced those ruminations. (I’m old now, I can use words like ruminations).
I’ve reflected on my own state of preparedness. I’ve also contemplated the state of those around me. Some of my social group are young and getting started in life, while others are older and farther down life’s path than me.
Youngins (I’m old now, I can call you youngins) are filled with vitality. They are heading into prepping full steam ahead. Others, with a few more years behind them, are hesitant.
This is purely due to their age. As if their number of trips around the sun has any impact on worldly threats and their ability to stand up to them.
No offense to my elder brethren, but you’re wrong! Age brings many advantages to both life, and your ability to prep. Let’s take a look at just a few reasons why there is no better time than now to start prepping, regardless of age.
Some Things Are for The Young
Youth is wasted on the young. Every morning I get out of bed, and I’m serenaded with a symphony of pops and snaps from my joints. I wobble to the kitchen in search of the first meal of the day.
On the way, I remember that I shouldn’t have had that ice cream as my stomach announces its acidic displeasure. After about 18 hours everything is finally loosened up, and I’m ready to start my day in relative comfort.
I don’t remember it taking this long when I was 24. It’s a reality that has to be faced.
There are advantages to being young. Especially with some aspects of prepping. Strapping on all your battle rattle, and rucking for 20 miles is a game for the young. I can, and do, strap on a full set of plate armor. Bat over 35 pounds… I put it on, train, and can’t take it off soon enough.
The same with rucking. My BOB weighs in at 25 pounds. I can do my normal circuit hike. After the hike, I offload the BOB and onboard a healthy dose of Ibuprofen.
Back in the day to afford college, I cut, split, stacked, and delivered firewood. My brother and I processed 50 full cords of hardwood every summer. It was a great way to build your body and wallet. Now, I’m happy to process a face cord or two throughout the year for our off-grid place.
I have left the more physical aspects of preparedness behind me. Rucking, heavy labor, and saving the world are for the young. I’m not saying that as we get older, we’re useless. Not at all.
Some exceptional individuals outwork most people half their age. It’s a reflection of reality. On the whole, youth have the strength and endurance to tackle some of the needs of survival. But that’s only about 1% of prepping.
Oh, and remember. Age and treachery will always overcome youth and skill.
The Advantages of Getting Older
Enough generational kidding and self-deprecating geriatric humor. Getting older and deciding to be more prepared is a natural inclination. The good news is you are now more prepared than ever to gather and master the tools of survival.
Realization: Life Is About More Than You
As the years pass, we often face our limitations and vulnerabilities. We also mature with those we love and are responsible for.
When I was 20, I was invincible. I was also alone. If I pushed too far, I was the only one affected. Now I make personal decisions that affect my whole family. I can no longer afford reckless actions.
If I get hurt three lives are affected. If the result of my actions is fatal, three lives change forever. This is mortality staring me in the face. It has become my responsibility to protect my wife and child.
For my child, I have the further responsibility to give her all the tools required to successfully navigate the world that will be left to her.
This is a heavy responsibility. Every day I wake up and pray that I can carry that burden one more day. Age has proven that it isn’t all about me. Nor should it be.
As the years pass, I want to make my mark on this world. More and more I see that that mark is my family. Their safety, security, and their chance to thrive will be my greatest legacy.
We can wish no more than to make life better for our generations to come. No, it’s not about us, it’s about them. You are preparing now so that, if the worst comes to be, you can protect them.
If it is to happen later, then you have the opportunity to pass down a survival knowledge, skills, and a preparedness attitude. Oh, and a lot of long-term storage food.
A Life of Experience
You don’t go through a few decades of life without gleaning a few lessons. This is not book knowledge. This is not “schoolin”. This is real experience.
Your value gained through experience can’t be brushed aside as useless. Ask any mechanic, tradesmen, or surgeon.
Books and school give you enough to be dangerous. Who do you want to fix your furnace? Kids just out of HVAC school all full of themselves? No.
You want the grizzled old plumber that has seen your model since it was first released. You want the plumber that not only knows how to fix it but how to make it better.
Your age and experience give you such an advantage. You can make decisions based on a lifetime of trials, errors, and mastery. Have you ever put up 200 pounds of rice? No. But there are a thousand little challenges that you have experienced. And you’re still here.
Experience has taught you tricks beyond number. Preparedness is your chance to reach deep into that bag and pull out a few miracles. At least miracles in the eyes of the young. To you, it’s just another day applying the obvious.
Decisions and Experience
The benefits of experience don’t stop there. You can leverage that experience into rapid and well-qualified decisions.
Consider that student fresh out of HVAC school in front of a broken furnace. They will go through the textbook diagnostics. Slowly they will narrow in on the cause and then apply the textbook solution. All this happens methodically, slowly, and at $100 per hour.
Let’s contrast that with the experienced plumber… They’ll rap on the expansion tank, determine that it’s waterlogged. 45 minutes later they are shaking your hand and are on their way.
Your experience and its impact on your decision-making process puts you way ahead of the curve. You can not only narrow in on the correct decision, but you do so quickly and accurately. With each survival decision, you balanced the pros and cons based on your experience and quickly come to your decision.
Not only are your decisions speedy, but they are accurate. Again, the young plumber tries what comes to mind first. If that does not work, they try the next thing. The iteration continues until the problem is solved. The experienced plumber takes one maybe two iterations.
Your decisions are equally accurate. The ability to sift through a body of knowledge and select the best plan and best alternatives is all yours. Without the experience, others waffle. They may be decisive but they lack the experience to be precise.
Patience As A Lifestyle
Youth and vigor come with an accelerated pace of life. How many impatient “kids” do you see today? The prevalence of the culture of immediacy is a shock. Amazon Prime delivery in 24 hours.
The answer to everything at your fingerprints via the internet. The pace of the world is increasing every day. Ultimately, this encourages snap decisions. Snap decisions breed mistakes. When it is all on the line you can’t afford mistakes.
The patience that comes with ages is more than a virtue. It becomes a lifestyle. As we age, we realize that we have time. Usually, you don’t have to take action RIGHT NOW. It can wait.
My uncle, at an advanced age still hunted. His buddies dropped him off in the woods and then picked up after sundown. It drove my father nuts that every night he was late. The worry they endured as the minutes ticked by was maddening.
It wasn’t until my father grew older and wiser that he realized that my uncle was not reckless but patient. He didn’t abide by artificial timelines. He realized that if he rushed he’d be putting himself in danger. He took his time and arrived safely every time.
Some actions take time. Some decisions require careful consideration. You have a lifetime of being able to tell which is which. Take that cultivated sense of patience and put it to good work for the health and safety of your family.
Let’s not neglect one of the bigger positives of middle age. Expendable income. While it may not be the case for everyone, in general, as you get older you get a little more spare change.
Often as we achieve work seniority we get commensurate pay. While it may not be a lot, it often comes with reduced expenses. Houses get paid off. The kids finish school.
It may not be the riches you dreamed of but money isn’t as tight as when you were just starting out. New mouths to feed. A new house or a bigger apartment. It was challenging times.
Your extra money can be dedicated to establishing and extending your preps. It may not be the latest tricked out AR or a pallet of food. That’s OK, prepping is a marathon.
Combined with your patience and experience you can now afford to chip away at 1 month, 3 months, 6 months of food. Your experience has even taught you not to waste your money on prepping’s frivolities. And there are many!
Wealth of Skills
They don’t build them like they used to. I’m not talking about refrigerators or cars. I mean people. Men, and women, of our generation, actually learned to do stuff. Our mentors taught us to fix what was broken, or to make what we needed.
Even the process of “Holding the Flashlight” was our YouTube. We were taught well. That could have been turning a wrench on your car. Fixing the dishwasher for the 1000th time. Even canning was a family affair in my house.
I will admit that I don’t change my oil anymore. But I can. I did, however, completely rewire our off-grid cabin instead of hiring it out. I also did all the interior finish work. Next year it’s plumbing. Did I mention the solar system I installed? And… And… And…
Our generation has skills. You can’t put a price tag on skills. Actually, you can… that’s why I wired the cabin. Kidding aside, prepping is about independence. Food independence. Security independence. Medical independence. The list goes on.
Each task includes the confidence to start a job and the skills to complete it. Not the least of which is the tenacity to stick with it until it’s done right.
I’d take one man with skills for my Mutual Assistance Group (MAG) over 10 Google rangers any day. Strapping on the battle rattle may make for a weekend of fun, as does stacking up yet another few of buckets of rice.
Remember there’s the other 99% to prepping. The fixing and maintenance – all without the local hardware store…
You’ve accumulated a lifetime of skills for this. Each and every skill you’ve learned has prepared you for the hard times. You will excel where others will fail without their google or YouTube university to spoon-feed them the answers.
Tried and True Friends
Do you remember high school? Friendships and relationships changed with the wind. If you were lucky, you came out with one or two good friends.
Fast forward 30 years, and I bet you have a few buddies that you would bleed for. Even one or two that you have already bled for.
As my best friend and I say. Friends help you move. True friends help you move the bodies.
When I was younger, I thought I had friends. We hung out. We had fun. But it was all superficial. I have forgotten more of those acquaintances that I remember.
I’m not ashamed to say that I have very few friends these days. I know a lot of people. But I have very few true friends. You know the type. The ones you can call at 3 a.m. with an emergency and they’re there.
They call you in the middle of Sunday dinner, and you excuse yourself and go. You go without asking what you are walking into. They call, you go. It’s that simple.
You do it because they’d do the same for you. You do it because, over the past decades, they’ve done it for you already.
You cannot discount the true friends that have your back in a stressful situation. Brother with bother, and sister with sister. These bonds don’t break. Cherish them!
I’m not talking about that tolerance. If I can be a little indelicate. I’m talking about less tolerance for bullshit.
Call us curmudgeons. Call us grumpy old men. That’s fine. We honestly don’t care.
There is a certain freedom that you have groomed with age. Freedom from BS. How many times have you watched the younger generation get wrapped around the axel around petty stuff? I bet you used to be there too. How about HOA, workplace, or club politics. These days our tolerance for it runs thin huh?
That’s a good thing. In the coming times of stress, there will be little room for BS. It wastes time. It fractures relationships. It creates no solutions. What others call grumpy I call direct. You cut through the crap. Ignore hurt feelings. And make the best decision.
Without wading through the petty stuff you are quick and decisive. You don’t get dragged into the pit. You remain quick and decisive. Do not discount this in stressful times.
There is a lot that is scary about the future. Not the least of which is getting older. Add in the fragile economy, international tensions, and political upheaval and it gets really dicey.
History has shown us that it is best to be prepared. Your perception of being old should not stand between you and a more prepared life. The advantages you have far outweigh your disadvantages.
Take a little time for self-reflection. You have more experience, more skills, more money, and more friends than your younger peers. This all adds up to a complete package. All you need now is to start preparing.
We’ll be here when you are ready to take the next step.