Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why by Laurence Gonzales is not just a book for those who pursue high-risk adventures. The principles highlighted are valuable for anyone who might find themselves in a life-and-death situation. Gonzales shares story after story – which makes for exciting reading alone – and proposes lessons to be learned from them.
A poignant line in chapter 10, “Inside the Right Stuff,” hit me. Referring to survivors who later became part of search and rescue teams: “They have come to understand, perhaps unconsciously, that they can only live fully by helping others.” This prompted the memory of what the second-century theologian, St. Irenaeus, said: “The glory of God is a human being fully alive.”
Living fully, being fully alive. Separated by some nineteen centuries, Gonzales and Irenaeus both recognized one of the pillars supporting a sense of self-worth and well-being. Acknowledging that “no person is an island,” and affirming the value of caring for one another is at the core of what it means to be human. This is also forcefully delineated in Reuben Welch’s book-long poem, We Really Do Need Each Other.
Of course, we all have personal needs and desires. But most of us sooner or later need a Copernican revelation, namely, that the world does not revolve around us. Each individual is part of a world of interlocking relationships, and embracing a passionate me-first or me-only mindset leads to negative consequences both for the individual and corporate society.
Doesn’t everyone wish to be fully alive? A positive step in that direction: find people who need help . . . and help them.