Aron Lee Ralston was born October 27, 1975 to Larry and Donna Ralston in Marion, Ohio. Ralston graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with degrees in French and mechanical engineering. Ralston and his wife, Jessica Trusty, had their first child, Leo Ralston in February 2010. Aron, an avid outdoorsman, set a goal of mountaineering all of Colorado’s 14,000 foot peaks, which he later accomplished in 2005. His fearless ego and adventurous lifestyle has led him to accomplish great feats, but with those accomplishments have come very risky scenarios. In 2003 Ralston was in the middle of a life or death situation that led him to do the unimaginable.
Between a Rock and a Hard Place is an autobiography survival story that captured the attention of many throughout America. Aron Ralston, a twenty seven year old outdoorsman, wanted pure isolation for the weekend to experience the beauty of nature. Telling no one where he was going or that he even left for the weekend, Ralston voyaged about eight miles from his car to explore the secluded canyon lands of Utah. He hiked into Blue John Canyon, located in eastern Wayne County, a little bit south of the Horseshoe Canyon division of Canyonlands National Park, where he surprisingly met two young women along the way. As the day went on, Ralston finally found himself alone and made the regretful choice of descending into a canyon slot. During his descent, a heavy rock shook loose striking his left hand first, and then pinned his right hand against the canyon wall. Ralston, with very little food and 350ml of water left tried every escape option he could think of but nothing worked. During his five brutal days trapped in the canyon slot, Ralston suffered from hypothermia, dehydration, and starvation. He ultimately decided to drink his own urine to hydrate himself. Aron used his camera to record his last goodbyes to his loved ones and engraved his name, date of birth, and supposed death date into the wall. On the fifth day, Ralston noticed that his arm started to deteriorate due to the lack of blood flow so he decided to use his multi-tool knife to amputate his right arm. After the amputation, he scaled out of the narrow canyon and moved down a sixty five foot wall. Eric and Monique Meijer and their younger son Andy found Ralston stumbling to safety.
Aron Ralston’s thrilling survival story left me speechless. It’s well written and has a structure that’s clear and kept me on track throughout my reading. His novel was so engaging, as unpleasant as it was. His writing style and use of vivid imagery made me feel as if I was in the same life or death situation he experienced. I believe Aron Ralston wrote this book to pull readers into his experience by making his novel authentic. Writing about his brutal experience might have helped him sympathize with his loved ones during the time he went missing. Ralston wanted his story to be a tribute to the legitimate outdoorsmen of the world who treat risk and the possibility of danger as the key to a happy life. He states “The psychology of why I was doing the things I was doing is very complex. A lot of it has to do with trying to fill up a void of esteem in my life and to accomplish things. I had a lot of fun out there, too, but at the same time, finding an inner source of happiness and fulfillment.” This book is a brilliant story about resilience, motivation, and mental toughness.
Being an outdoorsman myself, Between a Rock and a Hard Place reminded me that putting myself in a dangerous position can go wrong very fast. I respect Ralston’s desire and determination, and praise his ability to remain calm and smart within his circumstances. Though I respect him, I believe his ego has led him to make head scratching decisions. He mentions a few of his past experiences that put himself and others in danger because of his stupid decisions. His poor decision making stuck with him which ultimately caused his five day ordeal but Ralston’s love for the beauty of nature made up for his foolishness. Ralston states “I stepped out of my grave and into my life again” (Ralston 357). This shows that Ralston’s daring decisions have put him face to face with death. I completely agree with his decision to write a book about what he experienced during those five days. A life changing experience like that should be shared with the world because it may ultimately stop other people like Ralston from jeopardizing their safety.
Aron Ralston’s novel Between a Rock and a Hard Place relates to the course because his story is based upon a very important aspect of psychology: motivation. Motivation is defined as “a need or desire that energizes and directs behavior.” Ralston un-expectantly was faced with a life or death situation. His body and mind were slowly deteriorating due to dehydration, extreme hunger, hypothermia, and agony. As soon as he realized his only option at survival was to amputate his own arm in order to escape from the narrow canyon walls, his body and mind instantly became energized to fulfill that need. The novel mentioned that while Ralston was trapped he had a dream. In his dream, he envisioned himself as a dad holding his son. This image ignited his determination and created an overpowering will to survive. In reality, his own son saved his life. Ralston’s decision to amputate his right arm was caused by extreme motivation. He was motivated by the drive to survive, his future, his loved ones, physical pain, food, and water.
In conclusion, I really enjoyed his story and learned a lot from it. Ralston’s remarkable story telling kept me engaged throughout the novel. He made his powerful experience into a very gratifying book by using a writing style that correlated with his witty personality. It was very difficult to put down. Ralston’s story is inspiring and highlights the power of choice. It’s a story of a person with ambitions and his actions to pursue those ambitions.