“Even though hope is dreary, laughter RINGS TRUE through the men.” Captain Ernest Shackleton, 1915.

There was a race to the South Pole. From 1900-1914, the last of the courageous explorers were competing for bragging rights. The goal was to be the first to place a flag of their nation on the south pole. Many financial backers rallied behind Captain Shackleton. Even at the brink of WWI, the entire country of England watched as Shackleton and 25 sailors set off for the South Pole.

At a whaling town in South Africa, they were warned by locals that the ice was extremely bad and that the cold winter was the worst they had seen in years. With so much excitement and momentum, the party pushed on. Weeks later their ship the Endurance would be crushed in-between large ice floes. The men would be stranded on a temporary desert of endless ice.

Shackleton was a born leader. To his face he was called ‘Boss’, but behind his back they called him ‘Cautious Jack’. He kept the men busy: daily duties, constantly moving the camp, hunting seals and tea time. Shackleton found beauty in routine.

One day, long after most of the tea supply was gone and sugar was obsolete, the men were found in good spirits. According to Shackleton’s journal, the men were waiting inline for afternoon tea. While they waited they joked and laughed about the tea being too sweet or too hot. Some asked for more sugar. Shackleton noted in his diary ,”Even though hope is dreary, laughter RINGS TRUE through the men.”

From this quote I found my knuckle tattoos. I took the quote and simplified it. “RING TRUE”. I have come to believe two things:

1. I will never find myself abandoned on an Ice Flow in the South Pole.

2. The sooner I can laugh at my problems, the better.

Eventually, all the men survived after two years being stranded. It’s time to count my blessings and remember that my problems are only relative to my outlook on life.

Matt Hodel

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