"So your adventures are over?" -Wendy
"Oh no. To live...to live would be an awfully big adventure." -Peter
The new movie, "127 Hours", is based on the book I just recently read, "Between a Rock and a Hard Place", by Aron Ralston. While I haven't seen the movie yet, the book was amazing. For those that have a hard time remembering names, Ralston is the guy back in 2003 that was trapped by a half-ton boulder in Moab and had to cut off his own arm to escape. I was 16 when I first heard about his story on Dateline NBC and, like any teenager that loved the outdoors, I immediately thought this guy was a superhero.
The book recounts, detail after detail, what happened during his 127 hour long experience in Blue John Canyon. Many people criticize the fact that he broke two fundamental rules for hiking and canyoneering: going alone and failing to tell anyone his actual destination. "Why should a young guy who made such a stupid decision be treated like a hero?" For one, although completely against what I was taught in Boy Scouts, exploring the outdoors alone is the purest way to truly experience the awesome in nature.
Most importantly, I realized Ralston is hardly the superhero I thought him to be. And that's what makes him so endearing and his experience so intriguing. He's a normal guy that wants to explore the world and see what makes life so beautiful. He doesn't like sitting in a desk all day crunching numbers. He's ambitious yet slightly overly confident. He yearns to "live the dream". He values and loves his friends and family. He makes mistakes. He's human.
|Ryan and I at Zion's. Aug 09|
From April 26 to May 1, 2003, Aron suffered complete dehydration, hypothermia, sleep deprivation (127 hours total), hallucinations, searing pain, and near fatal amounts of blood loss. He resigned himself to death more than a dozen times before he finally figured out how to break his forearm bones and proceed with the self amputation. Then he had to hike out of the canyon, set up and rappel (with one hand) down a 65-foot cliff, hike 8 miles uphill in the blistering desert, and then drive 2 hours in his standard truck (he cut off his right arm, remember?) to the nearest hospital. It was a miracle that a National Park helicopter spotted him before he actually had to drive and bleed to death in the canyonlands.
After his rescue, and several surgeries and shots of morphine later, he received thousands of letters from people all across the globe. One woman from Salt Lake City sent a card telling him she had flushed a stockpile of her deceased husband's sleeping pills down the toilet. She said, "Your act of bravery has inspired me to hold on more dearly. I had promised myself that I would end my life if things had not gotten better one year after my husband's death. I know now that suicide is not the answer. You inspire me to stay strong, remain brave, and fight for life."
We're all mortals, living and dying here together on the same earth. We're all human, and we all make mistakes. Yet despite this inevitability called "death", there is an innate will inside each one of us to survive and fight for life. While neither myself or those I know have ever experienced what Ralston did, that's not to say that we've never experienced those same feelings of hopelessness, fear, and believing our life purpose amounts to nothing. I truly believe, in our most dire moments, that each and everyone of us would fight for our lives whenever our own personal boulder has us pinned.
But why? Why fight for something that will ultimately, at least physically, be lost? I think it comes down to simply wanting to feel and experience "being alive." We want to see our own dreams become a reality. We want to see majestic sunrises and sunsets. We want to show our family how much we cherish and love them. We want to become better. We want to build new and strengthen old friendships. We want to right our wrongs. We want to find joy in the little things, like a rodeo cheeseburger or hot fudge-caramel malt milkshake. We want to hear music that makes us cry. We want to explore. We want to change. We want to learn. We want to live. And in the most desperate and trying times of our lives, all of those wants and yearnings of our soul suddenly become our most pressing needs.