Thursday, March 6, 2014

Blind Determination in a Seemingly Hopeless Situation

I am the type of reader that does not mind spoilers with respect to life and death

scenarios. The title of the book is Touching the Void: The True Story of One Man’s

Miraculous Survival. Immediately, I knew the person that will be at risk of losing his

life would survive this extreme adventure. Stories involving the potential loss of life

always give me a queasy feeling in my stomach when I don’t know the outcome. I

become emotionally invested. I felt hopeless for Simpson as he summons every ounce

of physical and spiritual strength he could muster to return to base camp. As an armchair

adventurer, I cringed at how much pain and hopelessness that Simpson must have felt,

while simultaneously, I was rest assured that he would ultimately survive.

“He had gone. I knew he would, and I knew he wouldn’t return. I was dead,” Joe

stated when he was certain that Simon could not hear him and most likely left him for

dead (pg. 115). This is a significantly bleak situation since Joe did not have food or water and

had just broken his leg. Nonetheless, he was able to climb out of the crevasse but then

was faced with another seemingly impossible task to essentially crawl back to base camp.

Again, the circumstances seemed virtually hopeless but with Joe’s blind determination

he was able to arrive close enough to the base camp where he was found on the brink of

death. It was, without a doubt, a miracle.

In the epilogue, Joe reflects on his experience and applies it to everyday life in

order to make it relatable to the armchair adventurer. He states, “Life can deal you an

amazing hand. Do you play it steady, bluff like crazy or go all in? I’ll never know” (pg.

215). After finishing the book, I thought about personal experiences where circumstances

seem unsurpassable and with a similar blind determination I was also able to pull

through. It reminded me of stressful periods during a semester when all of my exams/

assignments are concentrated within the same week and it seems nearly impossible to do

well. This is a relatively common dilemma amongst Hamilton students and the only way

to overcome it is to keep moving forward with blind determination. It is “blind” because

we, whether as college students or as climbers, might not know exactly the outcome but

if we keep putting one foot in front of the other then we can overcome almost anything.

This is exemplified in Joe’s survival story in the face of nearly impossible odds in

Touching the Void.

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