One of the best true life stories ever? Maybe.
Yes, I have been riveted to the story of the Chilean miners for the past 70 days and grabbed every chance I could this week to watch the rescue. The notion of being stranded without any of the tools or supports of civilization is has a very vital and visceral appeal. The shipwreck of Cast Away, Lord of the Flies, Swiss Family Robinson or Lost. Stranded with limited options, limited resources and even limited space a la Titanic, Apollo 13, The Abyss. Any story about a prison (of which the classic is The Shawshank Redemption).
Their saga is indeed worth every bit superlative laden on and will be a story they will fascinate for years. Isolated, struggling with practical and psychological torments to survive until rescue or redemption. Hey, isn’t that the story of life?
Speaking of movies, Chile seems to be the breeding ground for these stories. Alive was also about as extreme a situation as you get. Curiously, it is probably the highest altitude survival story ever told (for every day people rather than mountaineers) and now the San Jose Mine is definitely the lowest altitude one. And they both happened in Chile.
My favourite commentary came from MSNBC talking about the aftermaths of such an ordeal. We all know about ‘Post Traumatic Stress’ (PTS), but their piece ‘To hell and back: How 69 days underground affects spirituality’ discussed a lesser known phenomenon called ‘Post-Traumatic Growth’ (PTG) which occurs (sometimes) when “people who go through something terrible report that it made them better.”
“According to a 2005 review of research published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress, religion, along with other traits like optimism and acceptance, was associated with more growth after a traumatic period.”
Charity and celebrity aside, most of the initial reports from the miners is that the incidence of PTG has far outweighed PTS for most of these heroes. I look forward to continuing to follow the aftermath and upsides to what can only be called perhaps the greatest ‘down’ side a group of individuals have experienced in decades.