Dealing with the “Boulders” in Your Life

Amy Lujan, Executive Director, ALASBO

Many Alaskans enjoy outdoor adventures. But have you ever thought about what you would do in the event of a serious accident? What would you be willing to do to save your own life, or that of someone else?

ALASBO members confronted this question when we had the chance to hear Aron Ralston speak at the ASBO International conference a few weeks ago. Aron’s survival story was the subject of a major motion picture, 127 Hours, starring James Franco, and Aron is almost as good looking as Franco!

Aron opened his presentation by saying that he wanted to tell us not just about the guy who cut off his own arm to survive an accident in the wilderness but the guy who would cut off the other arm, with a smile on his face, if he had to do it!

During the presentation, it was as if Aron were re-living his experience of being trapped by a boulder while hiking alone. This was very emotional for the audience as well. Most importantly, we were asked to consider the boulders we experience in our own lives—illness, loss, financial or career set-backs, and other tragedies. Some of the things Aron experienced during those 127 hours are instructive:

  • Rage during the first moments may be necessary but is non-productive
  • Stop – think – plan
  • There are no bad ideas (even cutting an arm off…?)
  • We make decisions even when we don’t realize we have, such as taking the last bite of food or sip of water
  • What’s really important to you? When you find yourself trapped under the insurmountable weight of a boulder, your values suddenly become more clear. In Aron’s case, the pain alone recalibrated his entire sense of being.

For Aron, it was the will to love, even more than the will to live, that gave him the courage to take the necessary actions to save himself. He experienced a vision of being a father in the future, a vision that would later come to pass.

Aron Ralston has continued a life of outdoor adventure, including volunteering for search and rescue and as a wilderness advocate. He has returned to the boulder 11 times! The entire experience was transformative—it changed his outlook on life forever.

May your boulders be your blessings!