— Aron Ralston is looking forward to getting back to life as usual. But for this now-famous climber, life right now is anything but.
The 27-year-old from Aspen, Colo., was thrust into the national spotlight on May 1, when he walked to safety from a remote Utah canyon after using a pocketknife to amputate his own right arm, which had been pinned beneath an 800-pound boulder for five days.
Now, he's trying to share the lessons he learned from his experience. Recently, he spoke to a class in Greenwood Village, Colo.
"I went to West Middle School and spoke with a group of eighth-graders. I talked with them about some of the messages that I feel like I have to share now," Ralston told ABCNEWS' Good Morning America this past week.
Ralston has said he believes he survived his ordeal so he could become an inspiration to others.
Speaking to the eighth-grade class, he said: "Don't let other people tell you who you are. Don't settle for their expectations, and dream your own dreams."
A Will to Survive
Ralston's will to survive and determination to recover from the incident have become an inspiration to many people.
"A lot of people think of it in terms of, 'I would never be able to put a blade to my own skin.' But having gone to the depths of coming to accept I could very well die there, and then seeing the light of being able to get out, it didn't even occur to me to dwell on the painful side of the experience," Ralston said.
"It was more about the euphoria, the joy. And I'm sure the adrenaline and chemicals that were going through my body helped out, too. But they all worked to help me get through that and the liberation was one of the greatest experiences of my life."
Since his May 10 release from the hospital, Ralston has been recuperating at his family's home in Centennial, Colo. He's also adjusting to life with just one arm. The hiker, who was primarily right-handed, has been learning how to write with his left hand.
"[I'm] up to second-grade level now, I would have to say. I can do some cursive with my left hand, but when I get the prosthetic, I should be able to go back to using my right hand for writing and for doing most of the things that I was previously doing right-handed," he said.
Since his release, he has reportedly been hospitalized twice for surgeries to treat an infection and to prepare for the prosthetic. He expects to be fitted for it in the next few weeks.
"I feel like it's an adjustment for now, but not really a major setback for as far as what I'm wanting to do," Ralston said. "I definitely think I'll be out doing everything that I was previously doing, as well as probably including some new activities."
Why Didn’t He Tell Someone?
While Ralston's story been an inspiration to many people, some have been critical in noting that the experienced climber, who also had search and rescue training, failed to tell anybody where he was going. Ralston acknowledged it was a huge mistake.
"I surely could have called someone else, my roommates, my parents, at that point to let them know where I was going. To me, it was the same decision a lot of us make about going to the grocery store around the corner to get a gallon of milk. For me, that was the level of risk I was anticipating for the day. I definitely thought about that as being one of the greatest mistakes I've made in my outdoor career."
For now, he's passing on the lessons he's learned. Ralston told the students at West Middle School, "The best way that we can each be a hero in our own lives is to follow our own dreams. And in that respect I was out there doing what I wanted to be doing I was following my dreams."
Ralston says beyond recuperation, he's looking forward to getting "back to Aspen, to doing what I love doing up there. Returning to work, and getting back outdoors."