Survival 101: A Guide to Staying Afloat in the Deep Waters of Life
We’ve all, at some point, found ourselves in a crisis, whether financial, medical, or emotional. My own crisis was back in college, when I fell into a deep depression and didn’t know how to make it through day to day. To tell the truth, I don’t entirely know how I made it out, only that I did manage to survive, and that I’ve done fairly well for myself in the years afterwards.
I don’t know whether Survival 101 would have helped me then. Perhaps it would, but I wasn’t in much of a place to ask for help then. What I do know is that I’ve found practical advice in it that I could use in my immediate future, as I prepare for a new job and possibly a move to a different state.
Survival 101 is like no self-help book I’ve ever come across. Rather than well-meaning platitudes, the book is full of solid, practical advice for rebuilding a life, from the ground up if necessary. Alai’s voice is perpetually understanding and optimistic, reminding us that even at the worst of times, there is some way forward, even if it may not be easy to see.
The book is broken up into five sections. The first is an introduction to what Alai means by survival and the basis of her philosophy. The second is about physical survival, covering everything from how to find food and housing in hardship to advice on managing finances and sorting out transportation. The third section covers emotional survival, while the fourth details a personal plan that some might find helpful in preparing to improve their lives. The fifth was what I found the most interesting, as it had a chapter on community survival. This is what I like most about Alai’s philosophy: it looks beyond the self, understanding that we cannot survive alone but must last as part of a world.
I found the book so insightful and enlightening that it was a hard debate whether I ought to give it four stars or five. What made up my mind was that the formatting was rather wonky in my copy, which made some of the chapters difficult to read, and that some of her advice in the sections on emotional and community survival felt more theoretical than grounded. I would have been glad to hear more about each. When her advice is solid, though, it really shines, and I would strongly recommend this as a general guide to anyone who is in or might go through a crisis.
And really, those who might go through a crisis would be everyone. We can never know exactly what’s coming.
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