There are always stories about survivors when there is a major drama of horror and one or more persons live to tell what happened. In the book, Deep Down Dark Hector Tobar tells the events related to him by the thirty three miners who were trapped over two thousand feet below the surface of the ground in the San Jose mine in the Atacama Desert in Chile in August of 2010. This book introduces us to each of those men and we get to know them as their characters unravel over the course of the 69 day ordeal. We learn their names, their family situations and how their personalities and faith carried them from day to day, until they finally, one by one were lifted out of the mine.
The stories of Holocaust survivors or prisoners of war come to mind as the pages take the reader on this journey. When the men first gathered after realizing that they were trapped and worked out a plan of how they would live from day to day, they counted themselves to be 33 men of various ages and states of health. One of the men called out, that their number was the same as the number of years that Jesus lived on earth. Toward the end of the book the author points out that once the men were discovered it took 33 days to rescue them. Co-incidence?
Like other people in such dire conditions, they had to keep their minds busy and away from the edge of madness which could have pulled them even deeper into darkness. One man wrote a diary with daily entries, another made mental notes on a series of home improvements he would take on when he got back home. In other situations, one P.O.W. related trying to remember every word in every language that he knew, or others devised a system for communicating with other prisoners through taps on the cell walls – anything to keep the mind working every day.
Like going through a fire drill or any other emergency preparedness training, I think that while most of us never expect to experience these actual disasters, it does not hurt to devise a kind of game plan for hanging onto sanity in some unforeseen calamity.