Courtesy of Ann Basu/The Bowdoin Globalist
Art / Hypotheticals

The Globalist’s Deserted Island Survival Guide

You’re Stuck On A Deserted Island: Here Are The Three Things You Should Bring With You To Make Sure That You Survive For As Long As Possible

There’s something glamorous about islands. At least, that’s what society has trained society to think. We equate a sunny island with happiness and success. Paradise. Everyone wants their own private island. Everyone wants to be on an island.

What is it about islands? We frequently ask each other this question: “If you’re stuck on a deserted island, what are the three things you’d want to bring with you?” It’s a harmless question, and before you berate me in the comments section for not liking it, I’d like to assure you that I do, in fact, like this question. A great deal, in fact. It really makes you think. At the same time, paradise aside, it has some heavy and depressing implications. It assumes you’re all alone and somewhere you likely won’t get found. It assumes you’re isolated from the rest of civilization. It assumes that this is the end of the line, that this will be your resting place. It’s a question that, at its core, deals with the end of life and the pure loneliness of it. What three things would bring you solace? What are the three things that would make you happy before you—you know—die?

I think we use the island to reconcile paradise and death. Maybe death isn’t so ugly or scary; maybe we can talk about it in a more comforting way. The question provides an outlet through which one can imagine his or her death in the most ideal of conditions, with paradise as a backdrop. Those who answer can decide for themselves how they go out, perhaps in a way they believe to be the most peaceful. Is this why we ask this question?

Regardless of our reasons for asking, or whether or not we recognize the question’s tensions, it’s still an absolute blast to answer! And for people of all ages! Many use simple-minded, elementary-school thinking that is based almost solely on immediate gratification. Instead, we should think more rationally; our answers shouldn’t be based on preference or gratification, but on survival. We don’t want to roll over for death. We want to beat it. Therefore, when answering this question, we must concentrate on survival. Even the ideal death requires dying, which is stupid, so we should focus on living.

So, for whatever reason—bad luck or the laws of the universe or the government or some other sadistic entity that forced you to be there—you are stuck on a deserted island.

In another sick twist of the plot, you’re only allowed three things to bring with you.

You don’t want to bring things that gratify you or make you happy. You want to bring things that you can use to survive. The following three items, described in detail, are what you should bring with you to accomplish this. Take it from me, someone with extensive outdoor experience. Furthermore, I have a level of intellectual acuity that qualifies my expertise in areas such as this. I’m also really smart.

So, after years of pondering, I’ve compiled the three essential items for survival on a deserted island. My intellect tells me that no other list stands above this one. I have trained my body and mind to be constantly prepared for a survival situation. My judgement is perfectly in tune with the rest of my body, and I’m perfectly equipped to do anything in the outdoors. I can basically fly. Without further ado, these are the three items. There’s no telling how long you can survive out there using these. Maybe you’ll end up liking life better.

Note: Let’s limit these items to what you can hold in your hands, so that disqualifies, like, “endless supply of hamburgers,” or “a land mass with people and stuff on it,” or “a fully functioning kitchenette with running water.”

Let’s jump right in.


Item 1: A book about water, right? But it tells you how to purify it, how to turn salt water into freshwater, and how to get water out of the environment

Rationale: Water unequivocally is the most important thing for a human to survive. It’s also a great sipping and chugging beverage. So you’re gonna need a lot of it. Seeing as the island is surrounded by water (since it’s an island), it would be easy to choose a 30,000 GDP Ultra-High Efficiency Seawater Desalination System that can run with both solar and wind power generation. The island definitely comes with both sun and wind included, so this handy desalination system would be perfect. The problem is, from the picture in the hyperlink provided, it’s hard to tell if anyone can hold this saltwater desalination system in their hands. You’d imagine it would be heavy, but the picture of the desalination system doesn’t include an object or person standing next to it for perspective, so it’s hard to say if it can feasibly be held. Its sale price is listed at $159,000, so it’s probably big, but you have to understand that it’s also a really complex piece of machinery, so that might be why it’s so expensive.

Nevertheless, a book on water purification is the (safe) way to go because it would be a lot lighter in weight and easier to use. The book is also convenient in that it will tell you everything you need to know about water purification or environmental extraction. You just have to kind of hope that water purification and extraction don’t require other materials like pots and pans and stuff, because then you’re kinda in a bind—no one ever said that being alone on an island with only three things would be easy.

The good thing is, you can rip out unimportant pages or the pages you don’t understand from the book and use them for fire tinder. Luckily you already know how to start a fire, right?

Item 2: A book about makeshift shelters

Rationale: You don’t know how to make shelters. Stop pretending like you do. It’s been awhile since you created blanket and pillow forts when you were a kid. Also important: you won’t have blankets and pillows on this island unless you make those your other two items, in which case your shelter situation is totally taken care of, but it’s risky. A book on building makeshift shelters will definitely teach you everything you need to know about building makeshift shelters. It’ll be very helpful for you. You’ll be amazed when you look at a tree stump and have the knowledge and imagination to turn it into a nice, cozy little fixer-upper. Don’t be afraid to get creative! Have fun with it! This is your (new) home after all. Make it your own!

Again, you can use the less helpful or confusing pages for fire tinder.


Item 3: A Sense Of Wonder

Rationale: If there’s one thing people lose in this world that couldn’t be better suited for survival, it’s a sense of wonder. Never underestimate the power of the thirst for knowledge. You never know what you can learn from. No one has been to this island. You’re the first one. The first. Three words: Explore. Explore. Explore (some more). The environment is your classroom. Fittingly, a sense of wonder complements wonderfully both the book on water and the book on makeshift shelter building. Without a sense of wonder, I doubt you’d get past the title page. It’s stressful being on a deserted island, but with a sense of wonder you can learn even more from the two books you’ll bring with you. Why bring a knife? Why bring flint? Why bring anything other than your insatiable, headstrong desire to learn? That, my friend, is the greatest item of all. It’s more than an item—it’s a gift—and it’s something you surely will need with you if you hope for any chance of survival.

Life has a funny way of happening. Society gets that. Sometimes you get the short straw and you’re forced to live for the rest of your life on an uncharted island with only three things. But when life hands you this colossal and arguably unfair lemon, you now have the tools to make the sweetest tasting lemonade you’ve ever had. Think of it this way: uncharted island life is the start of your new life. You’re a new person. You’re a new you. Don’t roll over for death just because it’s staring you in the face. You don’t need a knife or anything like that. It’s a common misconception that a knife is important for island survival; when you were in school, did you learn more when the teacher gave you tools or books? The human brain is trained to learn. My job as a teacher is to direct you to where you can learn more. It would be a disservice to you and me if I didn’t encourage you to learn for yourself. Frankly, you’ll probably come to appreciate educating yourself more if you’re in a life-or-death situation. Maybe—just maybe—someone will come by your island in their Carnival cruise or yacht and ask if you need help. And maybe—just maybe—you’ll look around your island, smile wide, turn to them and say, “No. I’m good.”

Out of obligation: Here are three needless Cast Away jokes:

  1. Hey baby, why you gotta be so Tom-Hanks-in-Cast-Away about this?
  2. Coincidentally, Wilson is also a brand of Volleyball.
  3. “The FedEx man didn’t come today—I think it’s because he got stuck on an uncharted island,” Tom Hanks said.“You sure, Tom? That seems kinda….uh, I dunno, haha, impossible? Haha!” Tom Hanks’ wife said incredulously, chuckling as she picked up the plates from the patio table. They had just finished dinner.

    “Oh, trust me, honey,” Tom said, stopping short as he took a long sip of water. He turned to stare out at the magnificent, yet vaguely ominous, view of the Pacific Ocean before him. After what seemed like an eternity, he said quietly, almost to the point where his wife couldn’t hear, “it’s possible, honey. It’s possible.”