Life Questions After Watching 127 Hours
January 31, 2011 § 3 Comments
I would think most people know the premise of 127 Hours, but just in case, there are some spoilers here.
I was prepared for a gory, queasy and bloody hour and a half when I walked into the theater to see 127 Hours. Instead, I experienced a frenetic, adrenaline-filled 90 minutes with much less blood and a lot more humor than I expected. Sure, the few minutes where Aron Ralston (brilliantly portrayed by James Franco) broke his arm then cut through it, tendons and all, was intense to say the least. (Although I didn’t get light-headed like these people.) But the movie was well worth the price of admission because it forced me to answer the following question.
How far am I willing to go to survive?
Would I cut off my own arm with a dull pocketknife blade like Ralston? Actually, would I even be conscious to make such a decision? Ralston seemed to stay conscious pretty much the whole time and even was able to keep his mood light when speaking into his video camera. I don’t think humor would be an option for me if my arm was pinned by a large boulder. My mood would immediately be inhibited by a severe case of shock, and I doubt it would really change much from there.
I’ve always considered myself mentally tough, especially in physical competitions. I was a four-year cross country runner, the last two of which I was one of the top-40 runners in my class, and as any runner will tell you, running a race requires a ton of mental energy. On the basketball court, soccer field and wherever else, I almost always feel as if I have a mental edge on my opponent.
But being able to outlast a guy in a race or win a 50/50 ball in soccer or dive for a loose ball that you have no business winning in basketball is not life or death, obviously. In fact, 127 Hours helped me realize that, to my knowledge, I’ve never been in a life or death situation. Not even close really. I’ve been fortunate enough to grow up with a good family and to avoid any serious injuries and diseases throughout my life. This is a good thing, of course. I’d be an asshole to say otherwise. I never want to have to ration my already limited supply of food over four days, and I certainly never want to drink my own piss like Ralston did.
But I am worried about my survival instinct. How am I possibly supposed to know how calm and rational I would be in Ralston’s situation, or in any survival situation* without actually experiencing it, which I don’t want to do?
*Sample survival situations: Getting diagnosed with a life-threatening disease, suffering a serious injury, fighting in a war, having to go an indefinite amount of time with limited food and water (like Ralston, the Chilean miners, etc.), dealing with the aftermath of Armageddon (unlikely) and fighting off a massive zombie infestation (highly unlikely, unless the concept of The Walking Dead comes true).
Honestly, I have no idea how I would react, and that realization made me more uncomfortable than any scene from the movie.
I want some feedback on this one. How do you guys think you would react in a life or death situation? How do you think you would react in Ralston’s specific situation? Have you been in a life or death situation previously?