Eight years ago, Aron Ralston was hiking Blue John Canyon, when somehow a boulder became dislodged and trapped his right arm. After five days and the realization that he was going to die, he thought he saw a small boy running toward him, and that he caught the child up in his left arm. Feeling like this was a vision of his future son, he decided to live: He broke the bones in his arm, and then amputated it with a dull utility knife.
Heard a speaker relate this story this weekend. I’d heard the story before but never paid it a lot of attention–until Dallin H. Oaks paired it with this statement(or something like it, I’m going from my notes here): “If our righteous desires are sufficiently intense, they will motivate us to cut and carve ourselves free from other priorities that prevent our progress”.
And it was like having a bucket of cold water thrown over me. What, exactly, are the priorities that are preventing my progress? What good (but maybe not essential) activities am I letting steal away the moments of my life?
There are things I think that I want to accomplish–things that nag at me constantly, but I feel I do not have time for just now: Writing that book, establishing a rock-solid family meal routine, etc.
But I allow other things to get in the way. (Sleep, usually. You know how it is: Next week, for sure, I’ll start.)
Do I really desire those things as much as Aron Ralston wanted to see his son? I tell myself that I do. But do I? Oaks said, “We should remember that those desires cannot be superficial, impulsive or temporary. They must be heartfelt, unwavering, and permanent.”
Would I cut off my own arm? Or even just give up an hour of sleep every morning? What “limb” needs to go, and do I have the stomach for it?
It’s something to think about. ‘Cause a lot of days I feel like I’m stuck, all alone in a desert canyon, and that boulder and I both aren’t budging.
And darn it all, I’ve got places to be.