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Man Falls Into Volcano

Did you hear about that guy who fell into a volcano?

On April 12th, John Slemp, a fifty-two-year-old man, out snowmobiling on Mount St. Helens (which you may recall,erupted in 1980, much to the consternation of the locals), got a little too close to the rim and tumbled in.
What do you figure the chances are of that happening to you? I guess if you’re crazy enough to perch on the rim, teetering, camera poised to get a shot of the volcano’s innards, you’d increase your chances exponentially.

In Michele Norris’ interview on NPR with Will Rinta, the paramedic who rescued Mr. Slemp (who was alive but I guess not alive enough to speak to reporters), he said it was the first time in history anyone had fallen into the volcano. Slemp had plummeted several hundred feet into its chilly depths, and had to be helped to a helicopter, airlifted out in a tricky maneuver. Miraculously, he only suffered minor injuries.

It does give you pause for thought though, doesn’t it? From now on the victim’s life will be primarily defined by this unique event in his life. It’s like the guy who catches the fly ball that wins his team the world series: the event becomes who he is.

So John Slemp might as well retire, rest on his laurels. He’s now The Volcano Guy, someone to whom a unique and historic thing happened, and he doesn’t have to seek further self-definition, if he doesn’t want to. He’s done.

Then you wonder, what about me? What will I do that defines me to a degree that I can be done, retire to the barcalounger, thinking, okay, I’m The ________Guy or Gal? How and when will that blank be filled? Or is it already filled and I just don’t know it?

It’s questions like these, and stories like John Slemp’s, that spin the world.


One Response
  1. Dennis says:

    A Sweedish tourist fell into an active volcano on Bali yesterday. The link

    But he was not the only one, another fell into Mount Saint Hellens.

    Neither will define themselves by the events. They both passed away. I think I prefer to define myself by my choices and not the events that are random. Difining ourselves is what is about. Great article, hope you enjoy the update.

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