My Own Personal Canyon

Eight years ago, Aron Ralston was hiking Blue John Canyon, when somehow a boulder became dislodged and trapped his right arm. After five days and the realization that he was going to die, he thought he saw a small boy running toward him, and that he caught the child up in his left arm. Feeling like this was a vision of his future son, he decided to live: He broke the bones in his arm, and then amputated it with a dull utility knife.


Heard a speaker relate this story this weekend. I’d heard the story before but never paid it a lot of attention–until Dallin H. Oaks paired it with this statement(or something like it, I’m going from my notes here): “If our righteous desires are sufficiently intense, they will motivate us to cut and carve ourselves free from other priorities that prevent our progress”.

And it was like having a bucket of cold water thrown over me. What, exactly, are the priorities that are preventing my progress? What good (but maybe not essential) activities am I letting steal away the moments of my life?

There are things I think that I want to accomplish–things that nag at me constantly, but I feel I do not have time for just now: Writing that book, establishing a rock-solid family meal routine, etc.

But I allow other things to get in the way. (Sleep, usually. You know how it is: Next week, for sure, I’ll start.)

Do I really desire those things as much as Aron Ralston wanted to see his son? I tell myself that I do. But do I? Oaks said, “We should remember that those desires cannot be superficial, impulsive or temporary. They must be heartfelt, unwavering, and permanent.”

Would I cut off my own arm? Or even just give up an hour of sleep every morning? What “limb” needs to go, and do I have the stomach for it?

It’s something to think about. ‘Cause a lot of days I feel like I’m stuck, all alone in a desert canyon, and that boulder and I both aren’t budging.

And darn it all, I’ve got places to be.

3 responses to “My Own Personal Canyon

  • Nena

    I so enjoyed that talk… Did you know they made a movie out of this story? Funny that he used this story the same weekend as I saw the movie preview for it…

  • kimkiminy

    Great post.
    The guy was interviewed by Diane Sawyer, and only one year later, he returned to the spot in the canyon, with her, and talked about his experience. Now there’s been a movie made about it called “127 Hours.”
    Funny, I don’t remember the bit about him wanting to see his kid again. I remember that he was stuck there for days, when he realized his hand was dead and beginning to poison him. Then he began the process of cutting it off.

    • kimberlybbert

      That’s so funny–I’d never heard of the guy, and now everyone is telling me about the movie and what not. I sort of ignored most of what’s on the news for years, really.

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