Wisdom from the Wild

July 2021

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In a gritty and intense survival show, ten participants attempt to endure 100 days in the Arctic in order to win a $1 million prize in season 7 of Alone: Million Dollar Challenge. (Yes … I missed seasons 1 through 6, but they are on my watchlist after this riveting season.)

This gripping season of Alone was set along the shore of Great Slave Lake—the deepest lake in North America at 336 fathoms (2,014 ft.), located in Canada’s Northwest Territories, from September 19, 2019, to an end date of December 27, 2019. (The region’s unforgiving December temperatures average 12.6° F). 

Using a limited amount of survival equipment, and with the exception of medical check-ins, the participants are isolated from each other and all other humans. They may “tap out” at any time, or be removed due to failing a medical check-in.

The show’s creators claim it does not rely on a camera crew to film the participant’s experiences, but instead uses footage filmed entirely by the participants, providing viewers an authentic perspective.

Spoiler alert: I won’t mention if there was a winner, but many participants tapped out from mishaps and maladies such as losing an essential tool, frostbite, trichinosis infection, torn meniscus and starvation. A common pain point for all the participants was the effects experienced from no human connections. 

Alone participants reflect upon their existence under the most strained conditions to offer nuggets of wisdom that we can all heed in both our personal and professional life. Here are some:  

“Being in a situation like this, you have to find a way to have a positive outlook. You could have a really bad situation that could take you down a bad path. If you have a positive attitude, it could give you the extra motivation that you need to keep you going. What a lesson to learn!”

—Amós Rodriguez

“I think when you take on a challenge like this, you have to be good at self-assessing risk. If the consequences outweigh the potential benefit, then you need to think about whether you’re going to take that risk.”

—Kielyn Marrone 

“Failure is a part of life. But your mind can do amazing things; your body can do amazing things. A lot of times, it’s your mind that stops first. But if you learn from it, you can change who you are and start doing something better. But you’re never going to get there unless you start it. That’s the hardest part.”

—Mark DAmbrosio

“I’m not certain how I’m going to move on from here, but I do know one thing: It’s experiences like this that really make you realize what’s important in life. The real blessing is my family … that is the most important thing in my life above everything else.”

—Joel Van Der Loon

Season 7 of Alone is currently on Netflix and episodes of Season 8 are now available on the History channel.

Thank you for reading this.

—Maureen Joyce