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David Letterman Intrigued by Meaning of Life

Late-night TV talk host David Letterman interviewed an extreme mountaineer named Aron Ralston. According to the Chicago Tribune, Ralston used a pocketknife to "sever his lower right arm, which had been pinned beneath an 800-pound boulder in a remote Utah canyon for five days. After rappelling down, he walked three hours, was spotted by a helicopter, and three months later was on national TV explaining all of this to a profoundly moved TV host."

"With the interview wrapping up, Letterman wondered, 'Could everybody have done this?' Ralston, 27, replied, 'If you had a choice to go through an hour of pain to live another 60 years, you'd do the same thing.'

"Letterman didn't even bother to respond with a quip, the usual antidote to an interview that's suddenly veered into uncertain terrain. He instead leaned on his elbow, settled himself into his chair, peered at Ralston through those primly professorial spectacles, and asked: 'Is that what you know about life that I don't know necessarily?'"

The article went on to observe, "Some members of the audience tittered, unsure whether they'd just heard a joke or whether they had actually heard television's most deeply serious funnyman ask the least funny question of them all. As in: What's the meaning of life? What's it all about? Why are we here and where are we going? You have some answers, Aron? You've been to the brink and back, so lemme have 'em."

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