You day starts out perfect. Just you, the sun shining down, hiking and climbing through the beautiful canyons of Utah’s Canyonlands National Park. You have told no one where you have gone, because this is a hike you have made many time before. You are familiar with the land. You are confident in your knowledge. You are secure in your skills and the abilities of your own body.
Yet this hike will not end like so many that you have done before.
Before day’s end, tragedy has struck. A boulder falls on you, pinning your arm against a canyon wall. No one knows where you are. No one can hear your cries for help. You have only a few supplies. A video camera, a flashlight, a bottle of water, climbing gear, a backpack. And over the next 127 hours, with no one else to rely on, and while death surely hovers over your shoulder, you must decide whether you will live, or whether you will die.
“Between a Rock and a Hard Place” details the events of 2003 that ultimately found the 28 year-old hiker entrapped in a canyon for six days. With his water supply dwindling, and his thoughts becoming increasingly confused, Ralston sets up the video camera he has in his backpack and begins to document what has happened to him, and makes heartbreaking farewell messages to his family. In the face of unimaginable adversity, Ralston makes a decision that to most is simply unfathomable. Ralston self-amputates his trapped arm, rappels one-armed down a hill, and then makes a six mile hike before he reaches help.
Most of us could never, ever imagine having to make these kinds of decisions, and as you read the book, you will ask yourself many times, “Could I do the same thing if I had to?” “Between a Rock and a Hard Place” details the tenacity, urgency and power of the human spirit in the face of what can only be described as a nightmare, but what the book also brilliantly shows is just how full and rewarding life can be, even after tragedy strikes. There are many lessons to be learned from reading “Between a Rock and a Hard Place,” including the nature of adversity and tragedy. Aron’s message is clear. He calls his accident “a gift from the wilderness.” He compares the gift like a sweater you receive from your grandmother…you are expected to wear it, to use it. Aron was given the gift of his own life, and his own attitude towards these events are what I find the most fascinating thing about his whole story. Aron continues to climb and hike. He is a motivational speaker, and continues to do work for environmental and political causes, as well as the Utah Wilderness Coalition.
The film 127 HOURS is based upon hiker Aron Ralston’s moving memoir “Between a Rock and a Hard Place,” and is directed by the amazingly talented Danny Boyle (“Slumdog Millionaire”). James Franco plays Aron Ralston in this Fox Searchlight film. I have had the opportunity to see this film, and can tell you that it is everything you would expect from a Danny Boyle film. It is unique, compelling, uplifting. Make sure you look for the film in theaters beginning in November.
I love this video of Aron giving a motivational speech. In the video he says: “Life is not about the accomplishments. When I was in that canyon, those were not the things I thought about. It was the people I loved. They kept me going when I knew I had to take one more step. Then one more step. Life is about relationships. Life is about how you love and how you allow yourself to be loved.” Do yourself a favor and take a break and watch the entire video. Then make sure to check out the trailer for 127 HOURS. Then leave me a comment and tell me what you think. ,