By RODNEY HO/ firstname.lastname@example.org, originally filed Thursday, August 20, 2015
Blairsville survivalist and corrections officer Alan Kay outlasted a 22-year-old Sam Larson for a half million dollars in the first season of History’s “Alone.”
While he and the show publicists gave me the impression he didn’t know the result, he actually did. Medical staff, ostensibly to give him a health check up on day 56, showed up at his tent and gave him the good news. He outlasted the other nine men in total isolation.
He smiled. “So soon?” he said. He thought he would be there through the spring. “Wow. Man! I don’t know what to think! That’s something else!”
He paused and joked: “Let’s burn this place down!”
Then his wife showed up. He showed her his home for eight weeks. He wants to use some of the money to allow his dad to retire and help his son get his eye fixed. Whatever is left could go into the house, he told her. Before he left, he uttered, “Home sweet home.” He looked genuinely wistful before stepping into the helicopter and returning to civilization.
Let’s do a quick recap of what led to this:
A bad storm with nasty winds on day 45 caused both men to sequester in their tents. Alan noted that his tent is so small he couldn’t ‘t even sit up.
“The isolation has been terrible,” Alan said without sounding too upset. “But we’ll see how it shakes out.”
“I can’t function in this state,” Sam said, noting how sleep deprived and hungry he is. “It’s a pounding, raging mess out there. I hate it.” At the same time, he said he refused to quit. “I will be here,” he said.
Indeed, after a commercial break, we jump to day 55 and both Sam and Alan are still on Vancouver Island.
Over the seven plus weeks, Sam went from an enthusiastic adventurer (“Bam!” he liked to say) to a shell of his former self by day 50. He just looked plain exhausted. Alan became more philosophical about the passage of time but appeared to be handling the isolation better.
At 11:45 a.m. on day 55, a rescue team was called. But to whom? It’s Sam! “It’s not like real life at all,” Sam said. “I try to tough things out but it was a slow brutal decline of just losing passion for this, wanting to be out, wanting to be home, taking care of my pregnant wife. She deserves me to be home.”
The program still has 24 minutes left and Alan is the winner – and he doesn’t even know it! On day 56, the sun comes out and he finds a bunch of slugs to eat, which helps supplement his seaweed diet.
“The best part of this journey is better learning yourself,” he said. “The woods are spiritual and have always been for me. And I want it! There are not rites of passage in our modern culture. And almost all people have these rites of passage to spend time alone and the whole goal is to be ready to be an adult. It’s a chance to know yourself. It boils you down to your essence.”
They give him a medical check up that day to make sure he is healthy. He said his biggest fear coming out here was “failure.”
“It wasn’t about beating someone. It was coming out just pouring out what I had. That’s my own victory.”
History then showed his return home, reuniting with his three adorable kids. “We are survival machines,” he said. “Look at what the human spirit can do!”
He noted that human beings are not meant to be alone. “There’s really no place like home,” he said, echoing a certain “Wizard of Oz” character. “There’s no substitute for that.”