From the book Deep Survival by Laurence Gonzales

That invisible rope that holds us here can always break. We can live a life of bored caution and die of cancer. Better to take the adventure, minimize the risks, get the information, and then go forward in the knowledge that we have done everything we can. No, some people would rather not see it, but the bull is there all of us. Some of us choose to pass the cape in front of its horns. To live life is to risk it. And when you feel the rush of air and catch the stink of hot breath in your face, you enter the secret order of those who have seen their own death close up. It makes us live that much more intensely. So intense is it for some that it seals their fate; once they've tasted it, they just can't stop. And in their cases, perhaps we have to accept that the light that burns brightest burns half as long. But I believe that if you do it right, you can have it all. I adhere to what my daughter Amelia calls the Gutter Theory of Life. It goes like this: You don't want to be lying in the gutter, having been run down by a bus, the last bit of your life ebbing away, and be thinking, "I should have taken that rafting trip" or "I should have flown upside down with smoke"  : Pete Conrad was the third man to walk on the moon. He died in a motorcycle accident on an ordinary day. It took him a while to die as he went to the hospital. I wonder what he was thinking. I hope it was: I did it all.

Holtz’s message still an inspiration


Article Photos

On Friday, Todd Lewis (right) had the opportunity to meet Lou Holtz, the man who inspired him. (Photo by Wayne Maris) View additional photos of this event at

EAST LIVERPOOL — Nine years ago, Todd Lewis quit his job.
He blames — or credits — Lou Holtz.
“I was spinning my wheels in a sales job,” Lewis said. “I attended a mandatory meeting in Texas, and one night a motivational speaker was brought in at dinner. It was Lou Holtz.”
Holtz spoke that night about overcoming his own challenges and about how he accomplished so much despite those difficulties.
During the speech, Holtz also spoke about having a positive attitude, the importance of helping others and about a list he made out, full of goals that he wanted to accomplish. The list grew to contain 108 items.
On the flight back home, Lewis read a book by Holtz, decided to quit his job and made his own list of goals.
Included on that list was to run a marathon, write a poem, give a speech, climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, watch a game at Wrigley Field, take his mother on a trip to Ireland and — a goal also mentioned by Holtz — to run with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. Holtz never realized that goal, but Lewis did.
“I credit coach Holtz and his message that day for making me realize this life is short and every day is a blessing,” Lewis said.
Lewis had one more item on the list. He wanted to meet the man who inspired him.
Friday, Lewis got the opportunity.
Standing in the conference room at the Lou Holtz/Upper Ohio Valley Hall of Fame, Lewis shook the hand of Lou Holtz and thanked him.
“He comes across just as I expected,” Lewis said. “He’s a genuine, sincere man. He taught me that you can do great things if you set goals. The society today believes too much in instant everything.”
Holtz signed a few autographs and posed for a few pictures with Lewis and offered up some compliments.
“The trust and commitment and care you showed ... It’s not complicated to do the right thing,” Holtz told Lewis, “I’m proud of you.”
Robin Webster, director of the Hall of Fame, said she received an e-mail from Lewis in February and asked that she thank Holtz for him.
“I just thought that he could come here and do it for himself,” Webster said.
So on Friday, Lewis made the trip from St. Louis, Mo., to East Liverpool for the opportunity to thank Holtz.
After the introductions, Lewis handed Holtz a gift — a small bag of sand from Pamplona when Lewis ran with the bulls.
“This is probably the closest I’m ever going to get to doing it,” Holtz said with a smile.

"No one can tell me where my soul might be,
I searched for God but he eluded me,
I sought my brother out and found all three."


Poet Howard Crosby

"Everything can be taken from a man but ...the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."

Viktor E. Frankl

"No king or prince has lived a better life,"

Evil Knievel

"I must pack my short life full of interesting events and creative activity.  Philosophy and aesthetic contemplation are not enough.  I intend to do everything possible to broaden my experiences and allow myself to reach the fullest development.  Then, and before physical deterioration obtrudes, I shall go on some last wilderness trip, to a place I have known and loved.  I shall not return."

Everett Ruess

I'd like to get away from earth awhile.
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate willfully misunderstand me.
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return.
Earth's the right place for love:
I don't know where it's likely to get better.
I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.

Robert Frost