Blessings, boulders and one hard rock

I was skeptical. Aron Ralston left home on a solo rock climbing trip and didn’t leave a note. Plus, he appears to be missing a letter in his name. Advice? No thanks.

Tickets to the speech were free, but my time wasn’t.

He caught my attention by admitting in the first five minutes that his initial choice — no note, no message — was a dumb choice. No sob story here.

Ralston showed clips from the movie adaptation of his near-death excursion in Utah. In between, he recounted the beautiful landscapes and unimaginable choices.

One boulder, one slip, and he was, in his words, standing in his grave.

He recorded his goodbyes on video. He drank his own urine. He willfully snapped a bone in his forearm, cracked the second one and finished by cutting through his arm with a pocketknife.

Yet as he said, he has only gained from that 127 hours.

Ralston was humorous throughout the presentation. “If you saw me throw a football, you’d see I’m still right-handed. I just don’t have a right hand.”

His message was likely rehearsed from the many talks he’s given since the accident in 2003. It was no less powerful. The movie’s tagline referenced the will to live, but Ralston said he would amend that.

The most powerful force, he said, is the will to love. Many times in that canyon, he thought of his family and friends. It kept him alive.

Our boulders, life’s adversities, clarify what is important to us and extraordinary in us, he said.

“May your boulders be your blessings.”

Ralston’s most dramatic change is apparent in his mindset.

“I’m not climbing with friends. I’m with friends, and we happen to be at the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro.”

I don’t give standing ovations, but I was on my feet at the conclusion. And I’ll always remember to leave a note.

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