Wednesday, April 19, 2006


My father used to tell me that there will always be someone that's better than you. And it's true. There's a hundred guys out there that are taller, smarter, stronger, leaner, richer, and have whiter teeth and sharper eyesight than me.

I've also realized that I am better off than hundreds of other guys. And as a consequential corrollary, there will always be someone that's worse off than me. Given that fact, I'm quite content with my current standing, so I do my best to keep my bitching and moaning to a minimum. Because as bad as things are, it could be a lot worse.

And the last book I read really drives home the point that I really have nothing to complain about. Alfred Lansing's "Endurance" tells the true story of 28 men who survived an amazing 17 months floating around on an iceberg in the Antartic after their sailing vessel was destroyed on an expedition voyage to the South Pole. The book is a fascinating retelling of these men's stories, taken from their journal entries and actual interviews. What kept these men together and sane was their ability to adapt to their situation physically and mentally and to keep a positive attitude during their struggle to survive. And amazingly enough, instead of waiting helplessly for someone to come rescue them, they took the initiative to rescue themselves.

Unbelievably, despite their grim situation and their daily struggle to survive, none of them really fell into any significant depression or self pity. To read about what these men had to endure for 17 months was an impressive and inspiring tale of the human spirit. What's even more impressive is that this adventure took place in 1915.

Reading about trying to survive the freezing and stormy temperatures while exposed to the arctic elements, eating seal and penguins to simply stay alive puts a new perspective on things. And all of sudden, whatever stressful crap I'm dealing with just doesn't seem all that bad.

Things may be bad at times, but at least there's no fear of losing my fingers to frostbite or starving to death because I couldn't kill enough penguins or seals that day.