Aron Ralston

We are not grand because we are at the top of the food chain or because we can alter our environment–the environment will outlast us with unfathomable forces and unyielding powers. But rather than be bound and defeated by our insignificance, we are bold because we exercise our will anyway, despite the ephemeral and delicate presence we have in this desert, on the planet, in the universe. p. 7

“Geologic time includes now” p. 31

“Mountains are the means, the man is the end. The goal is not to reach the tops of mountains, but to improve the man.” Walter Bonatti, Italian Climber

I try not to think about the fact that I am stuck. Though it’s an irrepressible reality, thinking about it does not help my situation. Instead, I concentrate on finding small weaknesses in the face of the boulder just above and to the left of my trapped right wrist…Everything else–the pain, the thoughts of rescue, the accident itself–recedes. I’m taking action. p. 55

Look for small victories. p. 63

With the sunlight’s presence, my emotional status lifts, and I feel rejuvenated for a time. Taking advantage of this positive infusion, I take up my knife and begin another two-hour cycle of pecking at the rock. p. 70

“The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” As quoted by Chris McCandless in Into the Wild

How would I behave in a situation that caused me to summon the essence of my character? The tragedy inspired me to test myself. I wanted to reveal to myself who I was: the kind of person who died, or the kind of person who overcame circumstances to help himself and others. Not only did I want to go to the Himalayas to climb a major peak, I wanted to explore the depth of my spirit. p. 74

My goal was to open to what that day was giving me and accept it. Expectations generally led to disappointment, but being open to whatever was there for me to discover led to awareness and delight, even when conditions were rough.

“It doesn’t have to be fun to be fun.” Mark Twight p. 94

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.” Goethe p. 97

Everything happens for a reason, and part of the beauty of life is that we’re not allowed to know those reasons for certain, though on this question, my conviction grows…We create our lives. p. 108

Discomfort with elevated risks was not a weakness to overcome, but a signal for me to process a decision until I could either move forward safely or choose to come back another day. p. 141

“Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents, which, in prosperous circumstances, would have lain dormant.” Horace p. 148

I learned what a fragile thing is confidence, how thin a strand it is that tehters my body to my mind through unlikely situations. p. 154

We define who we are precisely by what we do. We find our identity in action. If we do nothing, we are nothing. p. 155

The memories evoking the most gratitude in my life are of times with my family and friends. I am beginning to understand the priceless nature of their company, and it depresses me to realize that wasn’t always the focus of our time together. p. 169

Memories bring me a tidal change of morale, absolving me of my preoccupation with the agony of my crushed wrist under this boulder. My mood shifts from one of speculation on the dim hopes of my rescue to a highlights reel of my life. p. 205

What makes the human brain respond to death with reflection? I always figured people saw images of their family as a way of saying goodbye, but considering what the memories have done for me–giving me a surge of positive energy, smiling, feeling happy–I ruminate over an ulterior purpose. Perhaps the whole life’s highlights reel thing is a survival instinct, something engrained in our subconscious, the brain’s final trick in the bag to continue its own existence. I imagine that once adrenaline has failed to engage a successful fight-or-flight impulse, the flash of memories acts as a secondary reflex, motivating us to keep fighting even when we don’t think there’s any fight left in us. In the face of imminent demise, the medulla oblongata kicks unto involuntary overdrive and says, “You think you’re done? How about all those people who care about you? How about all those people you care about? and bam! you’ve got a little more spunk. p. 209

“The real test of any choice is, “Would I make the same choice again?” No one can see beyond a choice they don’t understand.” THE ORACLE, The Matrix Revolutions

The vision of his future son. p.248

“Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.” Johann Wolfgang Van Goethe