Are you a risk taker?
I’m not. I have always been more on the cautious side, preferring to stand back, observe, listen and analyze a situation. I’ve always admired people who are not like me, people who are more daring, or willing to throw caution to the wind.
Being a risk taker is not necessarily a good or bad thing, it’s simply another component of who we are. While we might be able to develop confidence or strive harder to push ourselves further, as with many things, our genetic makeup probably determines how much of a risk taker we are. Some of us are simply born more adventurous and more willing to take risks.
Recently I saw the movie, “127 Hours” starring James Franco. This is a movie about a serious risk taker, but even more importantly it’s about survivorship. It is a biographical adventure film which tells the story of climber Aron Ralston, who was trapped while hiking in Canyonlands National Park, Utah in 2003. It’s common knowledge, so I’m not revealing any plot, that Ralston was trapped by a falling boulder while he was climbing alone. His arm was crushed and pinned under the boulder, so he was unable to free himself for over five days. Ultimately, he self-amputated his forearm with a dull knife in order to free himself and survive.
Watching this movie made me really stop and think about risk taking and survivorship, among other things.
People will do almost anything in order to survive. I think this is why cancer patients don’t particularly appreciate being called brave or courageous. They just do what they do because there is no choice sometimes if they want to survive. Real bravery or courage happens when there are choices, when one can choose to do something, but also choose to retreat or do nothing. There is a huge difference.
Aron Ralstad chose amputating his forearm after five days because he realized no one was coming to help him and living without an arm was better than not living at all. In an odd sort of way, many cancer patients do this same thing. They remove breasts, ovaries, uteri, prostate glands, pieces of their colons, or whatever body part(s) they must in order to survive.
While trapped, Aron Ralstad spent those five days examining his life, relationships, dreams and goals. He acknowledged past mistakes and thought a lot about his future, and if he would indeed have one. Again, similarities here abound for those with cancer or any major illness.
While it was graphic and a bit disturbing to watch at certain moments, to me this was a very inspirational movie. I liked how the character was flawed because, well, who isn’t? He was over confident in his climbing skills, perhaps even bordering on cockiness. He broke all the important rules when one ventures out into nature. He went alone. He didn’t take a cell phone. He didn’t take enough food or water. He told no one where he was going. He didn’t think he needed to. He did not think anything bad would happen to him. He knew what he was doing.
Ah, I think we can all relate to that one!
So, despite his flaws and cockiness, maybe even partly because of them, we still care about him and root for him to survive. While watching, you can’t help but ask yourself if you would be able to do what he did. Would you be able to ration out a limited supply of food and water? Would you be able to leave messages for loved ones? Would you be able to maintain sanity and formulate a plan? Would you be able to cut off a limb? Would you be able to survive?
The human drive to survive is an amazing thing. Maybe it’s still part of our genetic makeup, an instinct that kicks in when needed. Maybe we are all capable of amazing feats of strength, be they physical or mental. Maybe each of us taps into only a tiny portion of our potential.
How much more is each of us really capable of accomplishing? Do we only truly discover our potential/limitations if we are pushed or forced to the “edge” in life?
“127 Hours” certainly got me to thinking about these and other things. It managed to get a few other people thinking as well since it’s nominated for six Oscars, including best picture and best actor. It’s a movie that will force you to reflect about things like limitations, survivorship, risk taking, poor judgment, family, friendship, life and death to name a few. I guarantee it.