One of the most important lessons that Brian recalls from Mr. Perpich is the need to demonstrate mental toughness in the face of adverse conditions. For Brian, Mr. Perpich's lesson pops into his mind at the point where he is truly becoming overwhelmed with the survival issues around him:
You are your most valuable asset....You are the best thing that you have.
This lesson is essential for Brian to recall at this particular moment. Faced with the prospect of rescue being far off and survival needs beginning to overcome his mind, Brian is able to pull upon his "valuable asset." It is at this moment that Brian begins to pivot from a position of self- pity to one of self- reliance. Brian is able to understand that the only force which will help him out of this situation is himself and that he cannot become mired in negative thoughts. He has to honor "the best thing" that he has which is own capacity for endurance and eventual triumph in his survival narrative.
In recognizing his most valuable asset, Brian demonstrates another lesson that Mr. Perpich taught him. Mr. Perpich's lesson about the need to understand that focused energy is much better than misguided intensity is absorbed at a critical moment in Brian's narrative:
a guy named Perpich, who was always talking about...thinking positive, staying on top of things.
For Brian, this is an important lesson because it underscores the need to remain positive and focused on enduring the experience in an incremental manner. Brian takes this lesson and applies it to his condition as he starts to take stock of his situation, assess his needs, and develop a course of action in ensuring that his needs are met. It is at this moment that Brian empties out his pocket and investigates what he has to help him. Brian recognizes that he has the hatchet. The hatchet becomes the single most important resource in his survival narrative. It will help him in so many ways and Brian might not have recognized that he has it unless he did not stay "on top of things" in recalling Mr. Perpich's lesson.