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The Heavy Rock of Isolation

GYE Corp. Monday, 26 December 2011

Adapted from an article here .

The movie "127 hours" is the riveting story of American mountain climber, Aron Ralston, whose ordeal gripped the nation in May 2003 when he was forced to cut off his arm in order to survive his adventure.

The movie is fascinating, mesmerizing and very real. And all too human. I think we all recognize that Aron Ralston could be any one of us.

When Mr. Ralston set out on his adventure to climb Blue John Mountain in Utah, he didn't tell anyone where he was going. His mother called and he ignored her message. He lived a life isolated from others, pushing people away, avoiding intimacy.

When his arm gets stuck "between a rock and a hard place" (the title of his book and possibly the first time that expression was meant literally), he tries many different maneuvers in an effort to free himself - all without success. After a few days of fruitless attempts, the situation gets more desperate and he begins to reflect, "I'm such a big hero that I came out here and I didn't tell anybody where I was going. Oops."

Ralston is beginning to recognize this, to acknowledge that his isolationism is not a healthy attitude - neither physically nor psychologically.

He continues, "All my life I've been heading for this rock. And this rock was made just for me."

As the ordeal continues, Ralston becomes delirious. Death seems to be hovering. In a true act of desperation, he takes a knife, already dulled from repeated banging on the rock, and cuts off his arm.

He still needs to scale down the mountain and hike 16 miles...

But as he walks away from the scene, he looks back at the Blue John and says, "Thank you."

We are given no further explanation but since the mountain endangered his life, rather than saving it, we must assume he means "thank you for the experience, for the wisdom gained, the lesson proffered."

In Psalms (118), we say: "I will thank You because You have answered me; it has been for me a salvation." The word "answered" can also be translated "afflicted". We thank the Almighty for the affliction because that was the opportunity that truly changed who we are, that (hopefully) made us better.

Aron Ralston is a fortunate young man - not just because he survived, but because he recognized the lessons available for him to learn from this experience while he still had the time and ability to change.

Although he continues to climb mountains, he also works as a motivational speaker, doing the best possible thing we can do with our preciously bought wisdom - sharing it with others.

Married with a child, he no longer avoids intimacy and he never goes mountain climbing without telling someone where he is going.


We are all climbing a mountain in our struggle with this addiction. WE CAN'T DO IT ALONE! It is the isolation that got us stuck in this difficult situation in the first place!

When we find ourselves in a real slump we often tell ourselves as Aron did, "I'm such a big hero that I came out here and I didn't tell anybody where I was going. Oops." If only we had made that call and reached out for help BEFORE we fell, we could have saved ourselves so much pain.

As long as we remain in isolation, we will find ourselves stuck between a rock and a hard place. We may try to break free 100 times, but as Chazal say, "a prisoner can't release himself from prison". The Pasuk (Mishlei 28;13) says, "Mechaseh P'sha'av lo Yatzliach - He who hides his sins will not succeed" ... "Modeh V'ozev" - those who admit their powerlessness and reach out for help, "Yeruchem - will see mercy".

Try this: Make a neder or a strong Kabala that if you act out before talking with someone first, you will need to do something very hard or give a large amount to Tzedaka. This powerful idea will force you to make that call. And once we make the call and are out of isolation, we can find the strength to hold back 90% of the time.

You can get a group of guys to call from Duvid Chaim's phone roster, or by PM'ing your friends on the forum and asking for their phone numbers. You can even make an anonymous Google Voice number to use for this purpose. Don't stay in isolation any more!