|127 Hours: What is Your Rock?|
|Posted on March 14, 2011|
(Spoiler Alert: If you want to see 127 hours, read this after)
I have to admit, I was equal parts intrigued and uneasy about seeing the movie 127 hours. I knew the storyline, his arm is trapped by a rock and he cuts it off. Not necessarily a compelling movie. However I also had heard the reviews, knew it was nominated for Oscars, and knew I would eventually see it, so with some trepidation, I rented it. My husband was at a work event, which brought more mixed feelings: is this the kind of movie I wanted to watch alone? Yet I also considered – would my husband ever watch it with me anyway?
I settled in with my popcorn and told myself the Utah landscapes would be beautiful, if nothing else. The director, Danny Boyle, had done Slum Dog Millionaire which was mesmerizing, so I only imagined what he could do with the remote red-rock desert of Canyonlands, Utah. I also told myself, I should see this, I lived in Utah, I hiked and camped in Canyonlands, I can’t miss this.
Whatever my reasons (I also knew I could fast forward through the gruesome parts – which I did), 127 Hours was by far the best movie I have seen this year. Truthfully, it has stayed with me. I am even tempted to watch it again. 127 Hours teaches such an important lesson: calamity is good.
Of course no one in their right mind would ever want to experience what Aron Ralston experienced, yet this event changed his life for the good (at least how it is portrayed in the movie). Through 5 days trapped in one spot with little to no food or water, it is a miraculous story of survival. However there is a much more captivating and illuminating psychological investigation that Aron undergoes as he is pinned in the depths of a slot canyon, seemingly deep in the Earth’s crust. He is alone. No one knows where he is. He did not tell anyone where he was going. He did not have a phone. He had not returned his mother’s call. He did not tell his co-workers where he went. He cut off from his girlfriend. He chose to be alone and he suffered the consequence.
On the edge of death, Aron begins to have an awakening. “I created this.” “In fact, this rock has been waiting for me.” “It is my rock.” “Even back when it was a meteorite before it crashed onto the Earth, it had my name on it.” Aron begins to have premonitions about the future. He begins to imagine being reunited with his family, and his extended family. He imagines a future wife and family of his own. Buddhists talk about being on the spot, when we are nailed to a spot we have an opportunity to wake up, to let go of the storylines in our head and touch in to what is really happening. Aron was literally pinned to a spot, and he woke up.
Already physically in an altered state, Aron’s psychological and spiritual transformation pushed him to a deep place of letting go. His arm was not him. It seemed he even needed to leave a piece of him behind to exit the canyon a new person. He began to go to work. A new surge of energy reignited him from the brink of death. Although he had already fruitlessly stabbed his arm with his cheap and dull knife, he was now determined to break free from this rock. Trance-like, he began to break his own bones in his arm, by forcefully hanging from his dead hand jammed under the 800 pound boulder, until his bones snapped. He then (I fast-forwarded this part) used the almost useless knife and his other hand to rip his skin free. I admit I sped over the details but it was gripping. Then he walks away after 5 days, barely alive.
It is still amazing to think about. His premonitions come true. He changes his life. He reconnects with his family. He gets married, has a baby and now he always tells his friends and family where he is going.
This movie touched me because I know personally and professionally that most people don’t change unless they have to. Aron had to change to live. However for most of us, it is not life or death, but it may be another crisis. We can choose to look at our crises the same way that Aron viewed his rock.
Rather than condemning and running from obstacles that are placed in our path, we can get curious about them. What problem is pinning you down? Why is this obstacle right there in front of me? We can pay attention and allow ourselves to do the hard work. Hopefully, not the work of cutting off an arm, but perhaps cutting off a habit or negative coping pattern, an unhealthy relationship, or an erroneous belief system. We can change and in fact rather than looking at events as good or bad, we can look at events as opportunities to grow and expand. So I will ask parents reading this: what is your rock that has fallen on you? How do you work with this problem, so you can leave it transformed, maybe even grateful?
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