Scott Hammond and his golden retriever, Dusty, are volunteer search and rescue workers with Rocky Mountain Rescue Dogs. In his new book, “Lessons of the Lost: Finding Hope and Resilience in Work, Life, and the Wilderness,” Hammond says that wilderness can be unforgiving and dangerous, yet fill our souls with awe and wonder and that the wilderness is a classroom where we learn to survive, thrive and sometimes die.
He says that “finding lost people in the wilderness, in the workplace and in life has taught me that being lost is not a geographic problem. It is not first a problem about being in the wrong place. It is a mental problem. Lost people may be deprived of the basics of food, water and shelter. But they are first deprived of meaning. When you restore meaning you take the first steps toward hope, and hope is the beacon that leads you home.” Hammond says that we have all been lost. Some of us have been lost in the wilderness and faced survival decisions. Some have been lost in work, wandered in careers and professions. Some have been lost in relationships. Others have suffered from crippling addictions. Some have returned from military service or a difficult overseas work assignment, suffered the death of a loved one, or been fired from a job. All of these are a form of being lost. If we have not been lost, then we probably know a spouse, a son, a daughter or a friend who has wandered so far from their path that the home community is out of sight. We hurt, and we hurt for them, wanting to have them reunited with our common community. Hammond adds that “surviving” is what you do when you realize you are lost but don’t see your way out yet. People who have been lost and have come home can teach us more than just survival techniques. They can teach us how to realize when we are lost, about the mental traps that keep us lost and the mental maps that can lead us home. Scott Hammond is Clinical Professor of Management at Utah State University--Uintah Basin. He talks with Tom Williams about search and rescue, and lessons learned from being lost and found, in wilderness and in life.