Over the weekend I watched James Franco portray Aron Ralston and his amazing 127 Hours. Like many hikers, I have a strong opinion of Aron and his tragic story. However unlike my fellow hikers who rant about how foolish he was and how lucky he was to survive, my opinion is influenced by walking in his footsteps. In May of 2003 I unknowingly arrived in Canyonlands NP just a few days after his ordeal was over. You can imagine my surprise when an indifferent park ranger pointed to a newspaper article pinned up to the wall and told me to read it. Canyonlands is a magical place. As you explore its vast expanses, you can feel the mysticism the Anasazi left behind. I can relate to Aron’s draw of being alone in the park…exploring its secrets, pushing yourself to the limits. Canyonlands challenges you in a primordial way that only a visit to the park can describe.
The movie shared the horrifying reality that no hiker ever wants to face. It communicated the fear, horror and reality of what can happen when you explore the great outdoors. It also reminded me of resiliency, bravery and ingenuity that man-kind has displaced over course of history. When forced into extreme situations…we can accomplish amazing feats (case in point, the Space race, as we celebrated the 50-year anniversary of Yuri’s trip to outer space yesterday).
It’s a brutal movie to watch…but it delivers a message that we all need to hear. Life is too short to complain, make excuses and sit on the sidelines while it passes you by. Aron’s will to live should be celebrated and embraced. If more people viewed the glass as half full…then we would all be living in a better place. Imagine the accomplishments that await us if we focussed our energies and resources on solving the riddles of cancer instead of bickering over whose fault it is that our government can’t find a way to pass a budget and avoid shutting down.
When facing adversity, Aron showed inspirational courage and these days I think we all could use a little more inspiration.