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April 25, 2012
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How many times has someone told you to live life to the fullest? If you’re like me, you’ve probably heard it much more than you need to. The phrase is very irksome. Even though it is used constantly, only a handful of people choose to incorporate it into their lifestyle. Another common phrase is “life is not worth wasting,” and my understanding of this was truly solidified when I watched the 2011 film 127 Hours, the true story of hiker Aron Ralston who became stuck in a remote canyon and amputated his own arm to free himself. The film rebuilt my perspective on life. As Aron began counting down the hours until his death, I began counting mine.

The movie begins with Aron, portrayed by James Franco, embarking on a solo trek to the secluded Blue John Canyon in Utah. He bikes under the majestic blue sky past countless rock formations. Immediately I could relate with Aron; our passion to be alone with nature is overpowering, and often you can lose touch with others. He failed to notify anyone where he was going. I, too, have at times failed to connect with others, by reserving my feelings to myself. As I watched intently, I felt as if I were the one venturing through the canyon.

Aron appeared to be living his life to the fullest. There he was strolling through the gorge jamming to his favorite band Phish in his headphones and neglecting the potential danger of his surroundings. A sudden twist of fate almost killed him when an 800 pound boulder fell from above him and pinned his arm to the canyon wall. Extreme pity filled my conscience as the scene unrolled because I knew that the event I was witnessing truly took place. All I could do was ask myself what I would do in such a situation. I certainly wouldn’t be prepared for it, and most likely I would scold myself for wasting my life away up until that point. Aron experienced those same thoughts and self-pity became his only companion.

Minutes turned into hours which turned into days. My mind raced trying to emulate the thoughts of Aron. He recorded his final goodbye to his friends and family, and he ran out of food and water. Fear welled up inside him, just as it welled up in me. On that mysterious border between life and death, Aron broke his wrist in half and tore through the decomposed tissue of his right arm with a pocket knife. I was utterly shocked. My only hope was that he was left-handed.

Freed from the boulder, Aron returned home and lived to tell his tale to people like me. After hearing his story, I find myself more interested in school, savoring my plates of food, and being active with the people around me. You only get one chance at life. 127 Hours has taught me not to wait until when I might lose it to start living it.

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