I was riding the train to work in the spring of 2016, I had been living in Portland, Oregon for about 6 months and I was about to have a formative moment without realizing it. The train ran from downtown Portland where I lived with my now wife out to Hillsboro where pastoral Oregon farm country crashes into the industrial sector that some call the Silicon Forest. The 40 minutes it took to ride the train allowed plenty of time in the early morning for daydreaming and wandering thoughts. Outside the window passed the typical scenery of Portland suburbia: gated townhome communities, condos, warehouses, and traffic on highway 26.
The inner dialogue I was having was less idyllic.
“Does acid rain penetrate into aquifers? How does someone even purify water tainted with industrial runoff? Distillation? Filtration? Man, I don’t even know how to distill water – something about bringing it up to boiling point and condensing it down. What’s the boing point of acid anyway…”
In what had become somewhat of a morning ritual I was letting my imagination run autopilot on a tour of the various world ending scenarios that were surly just around the corner. As the train reached my station this mental tour reached the part where global ecological collapse had ushered in a world reminiscent of Mad Max with a slight dialing back of S&M bondage gear.
Some of the other stops included:
Thermonuclear war brought on by rising tensions between the US and Russia in the Syrian proxy war.
The impending Cascadia Subduction Zone magnitude 9 earthquake set to turn the entire region into a hellish slurry through the fascinating process of soil liquification that I had just learned about on the evening news.
A pandemic brought on by an overuse of antibiotics, anti-vaxxers, and the irresistible drive of nature to bring an overpopulated species back into balance with its environment.
As each scenario played out I was along for the ride. All I could do was feel the fear, confusion and deep gut anxiety of someone caught in the end times with their proverbial dick in the wind. These feelings would last until I got to work or became distracted with something else and inevitably return the next day.
It had been going on for so long that it felt normal to fill the moments of metal boredom with a string of unrelated, hypothetical, and anxiety inducing scenarios that I had very little control over. I would feel the visceral emotional responses, not come to any meaningful conclusions, and end the day with a level of emotional strain generally incongruent with the cushy first world lifestyle the global socioeconomic lottery granted me.
I often think of that day as being a high water mark for runaway and unfocused anxiety.
In the three years since I have slowly been working towards directing and managing that fear and loathing into something more productive. That aimless anxiety has been focused into a mechanism for myself to learn new skills, engage with my community, pursue physical health, and end my days feeling more content, fulfilled, and the happiest I’ve been for as long as I can remember.
So, spurred by a close friend who stated that she in fact would like to hear more about my thoughts I want to spend some time exploring the journey I have embarked on into what I - mostly jokingly - call “the way of the enlightened prepper”.