“Hurry up!” I chided, staring at the dog as she reluctantly wandered around the yard. Rain was falling moderately as a cold wind blew from the east. I pressed myself against the wall while the dog debated to go to the bathroom or wait and see if I would flip a magical switch to make the rain stop. The rain danced off the leaves of the palms in a loud sizzling pattern as if they were landing on a tent. I shivered involuntarily as a rush of cold as a gust of wind slid along the wall. And then I wondered about someone I’ve never met.
His name is Mitch and right now he’s probably wondering if he made a wise decision. You see, right now Mitch is somewhere deep in the wilds of British Columbia filming a wilderness show. He’s either under some sort of tarp or huddled under a pile of branches and leaves as winters frigid fingers stretch down from the arctic. Mitch is under contract not to divulge much about the show, including the name of the thing, but did allow the facts that it is a long term-single person production. That means he’ll be living in the wilderness alone for a long duration of time without a camera crew or support. He is supposed to record events as they happen and then transport them to a post office to the nearest town where the “film” (could be a chip for all I know) will then be mailed to television company for editing and release. This is a risky way of trying to do a show. National Geographic tried it once years ago only to have the host, whose name I can’t remember, ended up having to be rescued after nearly starving to death, weeks into filming. (He also had the misfortune of losing an entire week’s worth of film when his canoe overturned while paddling to town.) This is probably why the TV Company behind the show doesn’t want Mitch to talk too much about it. He might end up in the same predicament and they want to make sure they have enough episodes in the can for at least one season before announcing the show. (They also probably want to make sure the show is interesting enough to watch without the predictable/planned arguments and tension caused by throwing opposite people and drama queens together in close quarters.)
The company, whoever they are, did a better job at picking a host for this show than National Geographic did. They did some research and picked out a dozen or so youtube bushcrafters to see who would apply. Derek, who goes under the handle of “Sargefaria” posted his audition on his channel, “The Woodsman School”. Mitch has his own channel called, “Nativesurvival”. He posted his last video before leaving for Canada roughly three weeks ago.
While I do look forward to the show, I have to ask myself if I would take this opportunity if it was offered. Could I spend a year alone?
I’m not talking about, “in the wilderness”. I mean a year alone anywhere: Sailing the open seas, floating around in a space station, living in a lighthouse, or even travelling the back roads of the world. Could I cut all ties and live with myself for a year. No friends, no family, no pets, just myself. Could I live without my wife? What about my father, brother, and other family members? What happens if something bad happens and they need me? Would I be allowed to stop what I’m doing and fly back to be there? Would I even know of the event or find out about it when I came back? What would my family think of me if I wasn’t there in that moment of need? I think about all the soldiers that had to deal with these very thoughts and events these last ten years. It couldn’t have been easy for them. Now imagine explaining how you couldn’t be there because of a show; because of money. How selfish would that sound?
Mitch also has a daughter. I wonder how explained it to her. I’m sure he’ll be sending private video messages back along with the footage the company will need, but will he be allowed to do more? Will there be phone calls in town or even visits for the holidays? Would they help or make it worse for him after they left? And what happens after the show is filmed? After living alone for that amount of time, will he be able to readapt to dealing with large crowds and the diplomacy of society? Will he be able to compromise with his wife again after doing things his way for a year without question or debate? (I almost think a show about the re-adjusting to society would be every bit as interesting as the show of living alone in the wild.)
There are many disadvantages and hardships, but the show is also a great opportunity. Mitch will have a season to sell himself to the audience, create a larger desire for those who might want to take any classes he might create after the show, read the book he will eventually write, and buy the gear he will be using. If the show is a large enough success, some companies might even court him to use his name on their products for a commission. He could secure his business/brand security with this adventure. There is a lot to be gained.
Would I do it? Would I take a risk like this and live alone for a year? I don’t know. In my heart I’d want to. It would be a great challenge and adventure along the lines of George Washington Sears, Joshua Sloccum, and Jefferson Sipvey. Money wouldn’t be a problem since the company sponsoring the show would have to cover my lost wages from my regular job just to get me to even think of the project. No, the biggest concern would be my wife. She would have to be on board with the project before I committed. Could she handle being apart for so long a time and could she accept the risks I would be taking whatever the challenge would be. (She already thins I take too many risks just by hiking down various paths and trails when the opportunity comes along.) Marriage is a compromise. Would this opportunity be one of those things that got lost along the way?
My thoughts are disrupted by the sound of my dog barking. She’s done doing her business and wants to go inside. It’s cold and raining, after all.