The Qualities of Survival

By Charlie Plumb
From A Cup of Chicken Soup for the Soul

       Several years ago I found myself a long way from home in a
  small prison cell. As a prisoner of war, I was tortured,
  humiliated, starved and left to languish in squalor for six

       It's important that you get a vivid mental picture of this
  scene. Try your best to smell the stench in the bucket I called
  my toilet and taste the salt in the corners of my mouth from my
  sweat, my tears and my blood. Feel the baking tropical heat in a
  tin-roofed prison cell - not that you'll ever be a P.O.W. If I am
  effective in these few moments we spend together, you'll see that
  the same kind of challenges you face as a teenager, a student, a
  leader, or a parent, are the same basic challenges I faced in a
  prison cell: feelings of fear, loneliness, failure and a
  breakdown of communication. More importantly, your response to
  those challenges will be the same response I had to have in the
  prison camp just to survive.

       What qualities do you have within you that would allow you
  to survive in a prison camp? Please pause here, think about this
  question, and write in the margin of this page at least five
  different qualities necessary for survival. (If you've written
  faith, commitment or dedication, you've already broken the code.)

       As I worked my way through the first several months and then
  years of imprisonment, I found I already had a foundation of
  survival tools learned in life from my parents, preachers, youth
  leaders, and teachers. And the life-saving techniques I used in
  that prison camp had more to do with my value system, integrity
  and religious faith than anything I had learned from a textbook.

       Sound like your life? The adversities you face in your life
  can be just as debilitating to you as six years in a Communist
  prison camp could have been to me. Now here's the test: The next
  time you have a huge problem facing you, turn back to this page
  and read not my writing but your writing in the margin. You'll
  find that the same factors you've written here, which would serve
  you well in a prison camp, will serve you even better in the
  challenge of everyday life.

Back to Lori's Humor Page