We’re just about at the tail end of summer here. August is nearly over, and September brings with it a shift in the air, a change of seasons. For many of us, fall means a new school year, whether for ourselves, our families, or our remembered childhoods. Although it is nearing the traditional end of the training season for firearms classes, there are still several months to go, not to mention plenty of indoor and virtual opportunities, to make sure you’ve learned something new this year to help you stay safer and to protect yourself better.
I know that I talk a lot about reevaluating where you’re at in life, committing to fresh starts, and making new resolutions. There are many moments throughout a year that can trigger those thoughts, and I think that’s no mistake. It’s easy to float along in a rut, just grinding away at what you’ve been grinding away at. Life so often falls into routine, where one day blends into the next and we strip our activities down to what is necessary to survival and getting to tomorrow. If we don’t pause regularly, stop and look around, we can lose ourselves. Last week, I talked about carving the time for old loves, for feeding our souls with the activities that relax us and enrich our souls. This week, I’d like you to think about what you haven’t yet found the time to learn, even though it might mean the difference between life and death for you one day.
There’s something to be said for dedicating that time to the music lessons you’d always wanted to take, or the art you’d always dreamed of making, or the esoterica you’d always wanted to know more about. But sometimes, what’s really necessary is to take that moment to consider what you need to add to your life not just for your spirit, though that’s incalculably important, but to defend your body and mind. Living a life worth defending is important, but you must be able to do the defending part too. Your attitude alone won’t always be enough to survive against someone who wants to take you away from the life you love. Learning the nitty-gritty of personal protection might not be as fun, and it might not seem as joyful, but I promise you that it will be worth it even if you never consciously exercise your new skills and knowledge “for real” with “real results.”
Simply having it available to you will make you safer, because of how it will change the way in which you view and interact with the world. Take Friday’s example, from which you may have realized or been reminded of the importance of preventing crimes of opportunity by removing valuables from open view. You’ll never be able to confirm if doing that in the future actually prevented a theft, but does that make it not a real action that stopped someone from committing a real crime against you? I’d suggest it worked exactly as intended, just like moving more confidently after a self-defense class makes you less likely to be targeted as a victim, even if you never get in a hands-on fight with an attacker.
So here’s my request for you today: figure out some personal protection skill or area of knowledge that you aren’t familiar with yet or haven’t studied so long it’s become rusty and barely-there. Before the weather turns winter-nasty, go start working it. Maybe it’s learning how to shoot or carry a gun. Maybe it’s signing up for a few months of martial arts classes (okay, given my own training background, I have to say it: Brazilian jiu-jitsu – accept no substitutes!). Maybe it’s taking a seminar about the legal aspects of using defensive tools and skills, so you know when you can use what you have without going afoul of the law. Maybe it’s getting into a first aid class so that you can save lives, your own or others, when bad things happen. Maybe it’s finally getting over your old fear of water and taking swimming lessons. Me, I have some specific weapons-related skills and issues I’m going to be exploring, and hopefully sharing with you on video.
You don’t need to decide to add this new thing to your regular arsenal, or continue studying it for a prolonged period of time (though there are plus sides to committing to a certain chunk of time or to reaching a certain level), but learn enough that it’s something that won’t disappear entirely within a few weeks or month. Make it part of your true knowledge base, whether it’s something you plan to rely on for your future safety or just want to know enough to know it’s not for you right now. Either way, it’s a valuable use of your time to learn one of these things. What will you go back to school for?