In our world, we constantly encounter problems. There will be more significant and life-changing obstacles, and also many smaller, less threatening ones. But what matters most is not the size or relevance of those challenges, but instead, it is more important as to how one deals with the problem. Adversity of all different types and sizes reveals one’s character. One type of adversity, physical adversity, happens in various ways.
In Mitch Albom’s book, Tuesdays with Morrie, Albom shares about how his old professor, Morrie Schwartz, dealt with his physical adversity, after being told that he had ALS, a fatal disease that would slowly render every muscle in Schwartz’s body useless. Schwartz decides that “[h]e would not wither. He would not be ashamed of dying. ” Faced with definite death, Schwartz decides to make the best of his time left, instead of wallowing in self-pity. His decision reveals his character of always wanting to live as best as he could, no matter what. Beck Weathers, one of the survivors of the 1996 Mt. Everest disaster, found the will to live from a different source.
In the “Storm Over Everest” documentary, Weathers talked about how, on the mountain, a person’s inside person, the real them, is revealed. Weathers was blind at the mountain, and left behind multiple times. When he was left on the South Col overnight, very close to Camp 4, Weathers began hallucinating about his family. They became his inspiration to begin walking. The importance of his loved ones to Weathers was revealed at the time when his life was endangered most. In Aimee Mullin’s TED talk, she says, “And, perhaps, until we’re tested, we don’t know what we’re made of.
Maybe that’s what adversity gives us: a sense of self, a sense of our own power. ” Mullins was born without shinbones and was never expected to walk or live independently. Mullins didn’t submit to that prognosis, and instead went on to, firstly, walk on prosthetic legs, then competed against able-bodied track and field athletes in college, and went off to compete in two events at the Paralympics, all through her own will. Mental adversity affects people at all different times and in many ways.
In “On Being Seventeen, Bright—and Unable to Read” by David Raymond, Raymond talks about his experiences in school. “I wanted to die. I’d come home from school screaming, ‘I’m dumb. I’m dumb—I wish I were dead! ’” Raymond has dyslexia, which he did not know in his early years of school. When faced with that unrecognized problem, Raymond could not help but be angry at himself. His anger at that age was perhaps even to the same extent as Lennie’s was in John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. With his childlike mindset, Lennie’s mentality puts him in a disadvantageous position against others.
Crooks, the African-American stable buck, takes advantage of that and antagonizes Lennie by continuously prodding, asking, “‘Well s’pose, jus’ s’pose he [George] don’t come back. What’ll you do then? ’” Lennie is at first confused at this, and then retaliates to the “threat” angrily. His instinctive reaction reveals his protectiveness of George. Charlotte Fox and Sandy Hill’s instincts also emerged during the life-threatening situation atop Mt. Everest. Both recall a desperate feeling while in the storm: Hill thought fervently that she didn’t want to die there, while Fox wished to put out of her misery. Both women’s sanities were challenged during that time, and their most inner feelings about death were brought out.