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June 12, 2021 4 min read

Humans are built to last.  Yes, we have our flaws and some are born with a harsh reality of a short life, but for the most part, we are amazing creations.  Some people even more than others.  Some have scaled the highest mountains and some have lived in the harshest desert conditions.  They have gone without that golden rule of three where experts say our bodies cannot be without 3 minutes of oxygen, three days without water, and three weeks without food.  If we break these boundaries, bad things can happen.  But some extraordinary people have proven that even these laws can be broken.  They have proven that they can go beyond those limits and push themselves to unreal places.  Check out some of the world records for how long these rule breakers have gone without those special needs of life.

The record for holding your breath?  22 minutes and 22 seconds set by free diver Tom Sietas in 2012.  I could never attempt this as drowning is one of my greatest fears.  In 2019, there was a movie called "47 Meters Down: Uncaged."  The movie was about a group of girls who scuba dive to a sunken Mayan city and then were trapped by a group are sharks.  They become trapped in an underwater cave, run out of oxygen and try to find their way out.  I heard about the ending from a friend due to the fact I had to leave the movie as I found myself holding my breath the entire time.  I almost passed out because I just could not breathe.  One odd fact about our bodies is that we can hold our breath longer underwater because of a mysteries function we have known as the mammalian diving response.  It allows us to subdue the function that forces us to breathe while underwater to keep us from drowning.  Unreal!  What amazing humans we are!

                Surviving without water is a much different undertaking that it is without air.  Even though there is not an "immediate" need per se, there is definitely a need.  However, the actual time a human can go without water varies with many different life scenarios due to our body's ability to maintain a water balance.  There are also outside factors such as heat and exertion plus our fluid storage of sweat and urine.  Under extreme conditions, our bodies can expel almost a half-gallon of sweat in an hour and this, unless replenished quickly, can lead to death in a short time.   However, in a perfect environment, it has been proven that humans can go without water for a week or maybe even more.  Andreas Mihavecz, an 18-year-old (at the time) Austrian man, may have been the one to survive the longest without water.  Police accidentally left him in a holding cell for 18 days in 1979 without ever checking on him or providing him anything to drink.  Although this record may not stick as he allegedly licked the condensation off the walls of the prison to survive.

                Survival without food is even harder to specify with limitations.  Every person is completely different when it comes to food.  Our brains trick us into thinking we are hungry after we have eaten only a few hours earlier when there is really no need for food there.  Throughout history, several well-known activists that have tried to further their cause through hunger strikes.  Mahatma Gandhi had many fasts, the longest lasting 21 days.  But, the longest hunger strike ever recorded was by a Irish political prisoner, Terence MacSwiney, whose 74 day strike ended in his death in 1920.

Other humans have went well beyond the limits of known existence to break records that seem to blow our minds.  Randy Gardner, who (at the time) was a 17-year-old high school student deprived himself of sleep and stayed awake for 11 days in 1965 for a science fair.  An Italian man succeeded in 2018 to record 36 full weight pull-ups only using his pinky finger.   Joey Chestnut, a competitive eater set the record for eating 74 hot dogs in 10 minutes in 2018 and then turned around in March of 2020 to set another record for 32 MacDonald's Big Macs in 10 minutes.

                Javier Sotomayor from Cuba set the high jump record in 1993 with 8-1/4 feet! In October of 1968, a man jumped 29 feet, 2.5 inches to set the world's longest long jump.  Usain Bolt of Jamaica, in 2009 ran the 100 meters in 9.58 seconds to become the world's fastest man.   In 2019, Julius Maddox of Kentucky set the bench press record by "raw" bench-pressing 739.6 lbs.

                I could go on and on and on about how amazing we are as humans.  Humans have fought and won against all kinds of diseases.  We have fought and won unwinnable wars.  We have lived through situations that we never thought we would make it out.  We survive holocausts, tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunami's and floods.  We have lived through droughts and torrential rainstorms.  We have overcome the cycle of home situations.  We have been mistreated and yet we survive and thrive. We fight, endure, we live life to the fullest.  That is what we do.  That is what we were created to do.  This life is worth living.  Remember the stories and teach your children.  You can do this.  You can make it.  You can make a change and difference in the world because you are special.  You may never break a world record, but nobody has your story. 

 You are an amazing human.


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