In the old days, around 80 000? 40 000? years ago, a small group of a new species whose chances of survival were small, moved north. Much water was bound in ice by that time, so they managed to cross into new territory. The group consisted of at least three generations of a family, lead by a strong old woman. Since childhood she had always been curious of what was behind the hill surrounding the usual habitat. She could walk for hours gathering fruits and herbs, only to discover that all she could see beind the hill was another hill. She learnt that sitting down made her vulnerable to beasts of prey, but standing up made other beasts wary. She was slender and attractive to men. When she got her own children, the little family began walking. Sometimes their conditions were harsh and they starved. But that woman had a unique quality: She was able to eat much and put on weight during good times, and then live off her own body during bad times, leaving the scarce food to her children. She became the mother of many daughters, and they inherited the same ability. At once she lost her menstruation, she gained weight, and that made her strong enough to continue leading her family group to new environments. Women like her are survivors, and they keep their health into a very old age.
No, no, I’m not talking about elephants. I’m talking about human beings.
I am now 78 years old. Some days ago I went through a thorough medical examination before my expedition to the Antarctica in November – December. Since I have become quite obese during the years after my menstruatrion cycle stopped when I was 60, it was necessary to prove my health. Well, all the tests showed that I am in perfect condition, showing no sign of the illnesses obese people usually get. When I began catching on weight, my mother consoled me that I would become slender again sometime between age 83 and 93. I know that I can live off my body, which I’m doing during my usual trekking in the Arctic. Then you have to sleep in a tent and carry all your food. My husband Torsten cannot live off his body. He is so slender that you might call him skinny, and he needs lots of food to funktion. One normal portion is not enough. Once we had walked the Arctic trek through the three countries Sweden, Finland and Norway and had some days left before the airplane was schelduled, I suggested we took an extra day to visit a glacier before we went back to Abisko. We had freeze dried food only for one day left. But my husband was so starved that he couldn’t wait another day to go back to the civilization even if he got all the food. So we returned to Abisko. We met some officers from the northern military on the way, and I became the main person in a movie demonstrating how to cross rivers and deal with difficulties in the mountains, just by letting them film me when I was doing my natural things. They said they needed a demonstrationmovie of a whitehaired old lady to make the soldiers motivated to perform as good as her.
The following day a terrible rainstorm broke out.
I am a survivor.