Goshen News, Goshen, IN

January 5, 2014

WHOLE FAMILY: Slow grocery line isn’t exactly “Surviving the Cut”

Goshen News

---- — Our house is full of electronics. Two laptop computers, two desktop computers, two heavily-armed cell phones, an iPad, a Kindle, an iPod for music and audio books, assorted hand-held video games that make annoying noises and get little actual play, and a battery-powered stud finder.

But no TV. You guessed it: With all those electronics, we don’t need a TV. You can watch a lot of movies and TV shows via the Internet on almost all of those devices — except the stud finder, I guess, but someone will, no doubt, figure out how to watch a movie on a stud finder one day.

I have a few weeklies — fluffy shows I like to watch regularly — and I find a decent number of movies to look at. Our family just enjoyed “documentary December” and watched one documentary per day, so Internet TV watching is useful for the children’s studies, too.

One aspect I like about watching shows via the Internet is that you can, quite often, watch an entire season’s worth of a show — or more. This is an interesting dynamic, watching hours and hours of one show. You sort-of get lost in the show for a while, which is a polite way to describe a temporary obsession, and you do not have to tolerate commercials.

Recently I watched two seasons of a show called “Surviving the Cut,” a Discovery Channel series about U.S. military special operations teams and the men who attend training to see if they make the cut to be part of the elites. It’s the “try-outs” for the likes of the U.S. Army’s Green Berets, the U.S. Navy’s combat dive team, the U.S. Marines sniper squads and others.

Of course I watched every episode available — six shows times two seasons plus two special editions, so about 14 40-minute shows. Over a couple of days, I became a military wannabe, inspired by the extremes the candidates are put to in order to test their tenacity.

Some examples:

• Divers put in a simulated helicopter crash, strapped into the helicopter and dropped into a pool of rolling water. They have to get out.

• Snipers required to move through a field and get within shooting distance of their binocular-armed instructors without being spotted at all. If they are seen, they fail.

• Countless tests of physical strength and endurance, including 20-mile hikes, long ocean swims and weeks of living on three hours’ sleep and one meal per day.

• Swimming an instructor to safety through choppy waters while wearing full military gear. If they let his head go under water, they fail.

• Using two wheels, some metal bars and a rope or two to fashion a contraption to carry heavy gear over hilly terrain. If they don’t get to the destination in time, they fail.

Razor wire and obstacle courses, heavy ruck sacks, grimaces and puking, the drill sergeant yelling, “DO. YOU. HAVE. WHAT. IT. TAKES. CANDIDATE?!”

I was fascinated.

But sometimes, while watching, I found it to be like a bad traffic accident — you don’t really want to see what’s there, but you can’t look away. Many men — most, really — do NOT survive the cut. They throw up; they’re injured; some voluntarily have to say, “I quit” in front of all of their peers, which is probably the worst of all.

At first I was put off by what seemed like “hazing,” or the practice of purposefully humiliating someone as part of initiation rites. But the more I watched, the more I saw it isn’t hazing at all, and I became intrigued by a few principles.

• Nearly all the men interviewed say the struggles are in their minds, not in their bodies. Their bodies can withstand great pressures, but it is the fear of “I can’t” that plagues them. I can relate.

• Nearly every special ops mission is for the sake of others, so the trainings are designed to remove — for one thing — self-centeredness. One motto, “We do this so that others may live,” really struck me. And special ops people don’t, often, get a lot of accolades. They just quietly do what needs done. This seems a rewarding way of life.

• Most of us have no idea what it’s like to truly suffer or struggle, and we are such whiners. Me included, of course, but wow. We think we suffer if the cable goes out, a power line gets downed or the grocery checkout line is slow. I really don’t want my children growing up that way, but I see it often enough in their everyday attitudes. I can’t, exactly, enroll them in special ops training, but I can do something about it for sure.

• Greatness and success don’t just happen. Those come, really, through hard work, sacrifice, perseverance and repetitive practice and training. The men who had not been in the practice of grueling training but show up to the tryouts banking on their everyday fitness and smarts get knocked out almost immediately.

Some of the TV I watch on the Internet is just silly, but this series, Discovery Channel’s “Surviving the Cut,” really got me thinking. Nope, I’m not joining no U.S. Army any time soon, but I can certainly be asking myself — about many different things — “Would I survive the cut?”

A good question for life.

Goshen News columnist Stephanie Price is a wife, mother, teacher, childbirth educator, midwife’s assistant and nursing student from Elkhart. Contact her at wholefamily@goshennews.com, 269-641-7249 or on Facebook at the page “Whole Family Column by Steph Price.”