how to survive in the forest


She was meant to be alive today. Things were not better before: Things were not perfect today. She was not meant to live in 1848, 1948 – all the romanticization of old cars and dress clothes aside, it didn’t balance the whole people walking around without arms, hearts: She was meant to live today. She was lost.


Is it that you yell or play dead with a black bear? 


She was twenty-seven: Some people called her old. Some people called her young. Some people had called her things- being a woman, you were always named something, a chalkboard to scribble on- but she had never been called a woods-woman. Still, she knew that worrying got you worse than nowhere, and not to drink alcohol to stay warm. The last rule was easier to follow if you did not happen to have a flask of good vodka on you when you were lost. It softened the twigs that snapped against your cheeks- if you were lucky, snow would drift through the branches, to your tongue, for a vodka-water.


10 Tips On Surviving In The Wild was another pointless Yahoo News story that she hadn’t read. Instead, she had clicked on You’ll Never Believe What This Woman Did With Her Forty Million Dollars. She hadn’t read any survival manuals. She hadn’t read much, but she liked words… if you like people, family, music, the internet, or talking, you like words: People who say, I don’t like to read, have probably found success at some point in their life by what they said, or, didn’t say. People who judge those who say, “I don’t like to read,” aren’t listening… These thoughts were nice to kill time during a particularly bad hangover, waking up with numb fingers, lost in the woods, but it might not have helped her to complete any of those dots in the map of Getting To The Cabin.


You don’t make jokes?


You just seem like you don’t make jokes.

Shouldn’t you be watching the road?

The sky? 


She met him at a bar – a crowd of people standing near him, moths to light, wanting to be in earshot of someone funny – and he reminded her of a similar person in her high school, who a bunch of people had tried to imitate, remoras to the great white – the saddest thing she had ever seen was an ex-boyfriend who made a bad, transparent joke to her father, trying to assuage the awkwardness of a first meeting.

Just pass me the soya sauce, Steve.

Alone, she thought, this guy was really funny – his jokes more subtle, less performance, than at the bar – this section should end with the insightful sentence: no matter how funny, pilots should never make jokes when flying low. Instead, it ends with the lackluster, I love vodka, I love –


She was meant to survive today because this is where she was meant to be. She created the world, it was not that the world had created her… uh, never mind: This isn’t that piece of all-knowing and inspirational writing that just invents these pretty massive truths, as though nothing needs to be backed up, one size fits all, like a campaign slogan. You determine your own success is as vague as We believe in Canada. If your salary is being paid by the Canadian government, you had better believe in Canada, whatever that means. We Promise Jobs. Jobs, as though equivalent to the word Oranges, that they’re generally all the same, never some part-time, full-time, filled by immigrants, migrant workers, barely balancing out those that are lost, yeah, ones with benefits that the lobbyists didn’t love… ideas kept her warm… if I work hard enough, she thought, I’ll make it back. I can’t tell if I love Vodka, or if Vodka loves me.


His knowledge of bears was dead wrong.


When you run, you forget.

When you’re running from something that you think will eat you, you don’t think about much else than run

You don’t turn to see if it is about to eat you. You don’t turn to see who is running, or who is playing dead


Q: What are the odds of running into a bear the same week that you ran away from another? 

A: Good. 

Q: What are the odds that you think it is incredibly crazy odds?

A: Good.

Q: What are the odds that you thought the first bear was a grown bear, not a cub?

A: Great.  


It’s not a stretch to think someone is playing a joke on you when three completely ridiculous things happen in the same day: It doesn’t matter if it goes (a) someone yells at you on bus, (b) someone spills drink on you in cafe, (c) someone spills drink on you in bar; or (a) your plane crashes, (b) you encounter a bear, (c) you encounter another bear, you still have the feeling that someone is testing your patience for a laugh. 

At some point, the burden of proof brings you to realize it isn’t a Just for Laughs skit. You keep the idea that it is because the creeping reality that life is random is offset, is it all unplanned, was I meant to live today? 

It could be why she laughed when she saw the second bear- why she slurred, alright, where’s the hidden camera, before lying down, thinking about the trajectory of snow. 


words by Liam Lachance

*colour was removed after artist made xenophobic comments

Author: Word and Colour

words inspired by colour

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