“You lucky son of a b****,” Aron Ralston said as he playfully punched me.
Find out why…after the break
It’s like The Bachelor all up in here.
I’ll get to why Aron said that to me in a minute, but first, how did I even get myself in that position? Aron was in Madison today as part of the Distinguished Lecture Series on the UW-Madison campus. In case you’re not familiar, Aron is “that guy who got stuck in a canyon and had to cut his arm off to get free.” My friend Mary told me about his upcoming appearance last week. Thanks, Mary! I’ve gone to previous lectures and they are always well attended, so I showed up nearly an hour early and it paid off. I had a great seat even though there were probably a thousand people there. Such a great turnout to hear him speak!
Aron’s presentation was fantastic. He walked us through his story, his presentation interspersed with both drama and humor. He punctuated parts of his story with the lessons he learned from selected events, like the importance of accountability and what he learned about courage and commitment from his ordeal. He also told us what it’s like to drink your own pee and yes, he went into detail about how he cut his arm off. Insane. The whole thing was a wonderful learning experience for a budding speaker like myself, too.
After the presentation, they had a reception for Aron, so of course I ran in there, hoping to meet him. My expectations were low because there were so many people, but when I got in there, there he was! Within a couple minutes I was getting picture with him and talking about our arms.
He mentioned how sensitive his skin is where his arm is amputated, which led to our talking about how the skin is less sensitive for congenital amputees like me. That’s when he laughingly called me a “lucky son of a…” It was great. I gave him my card and some stickers and said I’d love to talk more sometime, so he wrote down his email address for me and as he did another question popped into my head. “Wait, so were you left-handed before the accident?” I asked. “Have you heard of a guy named Murphy?” he replied. Wow! So, he amputated his dominant hand with his non-dominant and then had to relearn how to do everything left-handed! Crazy.
It was a great night. His story is so unique and inspiring. If you’re unfamiliar, you should checkout his book, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, and watch the movie about his story, 127 Hours. I was glad to be able to hear him tell it in-person and to connect with him personally. And I’ll ask you what he asked at the end of his speech: “What is your boulder?” What is it that you have to overcome right now? Because the fact of the matter is…
You can do it.