Thursday, October 1, 2009

Perseverence and Survival

News about Donald's job prospect may be forthcoming today. I prefer not to write anything about it yet, except to say that it is amazing how things may be working out, in an unexpected and possibly very meaningful way.

In the meantime, I wanted to share a story I heard recently. It was on Ken Burns' "The National Parks: America's Best Idea" series aired on PBS about the history of the national parks. One of the parks highlighted is Yellowstone, which includes the story of Truman C. Everts. While traveling with an expedition in 1870, Truman (aged 54) was separated from his party. He managed to survive with no food or tools or shelter for thirty-seven days before he was found, emaciated, injured, and out of his mind. And he recovered. He published his story in Scribner's Monthly in 1871. Lee Whittlesey republished it in 2002.

I sat there with my jaw on the floor. As the narrative described the course of events, the situation got progressively worse as Truman lost his supplies and then was injured several times. I was amazed that he survived at all. You can see the clip about his ordeal here (his story ends at 5:11).

It made me wonder about the kind of determination and resolve that Truman must have had in order to survive such a situation. I wonder whether I could have done/could do the same.

It also reminded me that things could always be worse. It reminded me to be grateful for each and every good thing in my life. I am even inclined to be grateful for the mediocre and mundane things because at least I'm not lost in uncharted wilderness with wild animals, frostbite, and starvation. Ah, perspective.

If Truman could survive under such terrible circumstances for over a month, what in the world could I possibly have to complain about?

To be fair, everyone has their own context. There is always someone worse off than we are. Truman's situation lacked simple physiological basics. Most of us are not in that situation. That doesn't mean that we don't have the right to express discontent or frustration. We have to work from our own perspectives and expectations and each find our own way to be happy.

Truman's story struck me because of his strength and determination. I admire his ability to survive. It gives me strength and determination too. If he could survive that, then I can certainly survive (and thrive in) the challenges that come my way.

What can you do today to move beyond surviving and into thriving?


  1. I can start accepting life as it is and stop trying to make it into something I think it should be. Thanks for this, Daphne.

  2. Jill - Good for you! I think acceptance of the present is a great way to reduce anxiety and stress. It's also a good way to clear your mind and figure out what your priorities are. Then you can find your way to making the important things happen. Good luck!

  3. I so feel like my husband and I are going through the same thing. He recently (about a month ago) lost his job, and we have the tendancy to only see that the sky is falling. Thanks for the reminder that it can always be worse, and that we need to thrive instead of "dive" into a hole of self pity.

  4. I think "going with the flow" when those challenges pop up and slap you in the face...taking them head-on instead of shying away...especially when what you want seems so FAR AWAY.

  5. Jenny - I'm so sorry your husband lost his job! And so soon after you got married (gorgeous photos, btw)! Allow yourself some time to grieve, go through the process of acceptance, and then get back to balancing your priorities with reality. Take it a day at a time and please let me know if you ever need to talk!

    Jessica - It is so hard not to shy away from conflict or challenges. I get the sense, though, with your competitive streak, that if you treat each challenge as an opportunity to win, it might give you a different perspective. You know, like Buff-tober.


I welcome and appreciate your comments!