The harder you’re thrown, why the
higher you bounce; Be proud of
your blackened eye! It isn’t the fact
that you’re licked that counts;
It’s how did you fight and why?
Edmund Vance Cooke
In May of 2003, Aron Ralston, mountaineer and hiker, was hiking alone in the canyons of Utah when a 800 pound boulder dislodged, sending him falling down a deep narrow canyon with the boulder pushing him all the way. When he reached the bottom the boulder pinned his right arm between the boulder and the rock wall. No one knew he was there and he had no phone with him to call for help. He spent 6 days alone, as his arm slowly died between the boulder and the wall. Fortunately, his pack made it through the fall enabling him to access his basic climbing and hiking tools. Unfortunately, the pack had very little food or water and no jacket for the cold nights in the canyon. The boulder hit his left hand first before it pinned his right arm against the wall and it was painful and swollen so much that he could no longer see his knuckles. He knew before anyone realized that he was missing, he would probably be dead. For six days, he tried every escape plan he could devise, but nothing worked. Out of water and time, on the morning of the sixth day, he used his video camera to record his goodbyes to his family and friends. Then, in a moment of stark clarity, he devised his last escape attempt: he would use his two-inch pocket knife to cut his right arm off. The amputation took over an hour using his swollen left hand. After he had managed to cut off the portion of his arm that was trapped, he climbed out of the canyon and rapelled down a 65 foot wall with one hand. Then he began the eight mile trek to his car. Before he made it to his car, he met a family on the way and they phoned for help. A helicopter finally arrived and took him to the hospital. He had lost over 40 pounds, but was happy to be alive.
What I admire about Aron Ralston is that despite the odds, he never gave up. As human beings, we often give up on our projects, our lives and our dreams. I take inspiration from Aron’s story and the next time I want to give up on something, I will remember his courageous efforts.