Sunday, January 22, 2012

The pinnacle and over the precipice

Toni Lucas

"There is no worse feeling than that millisecond you are sure you are going to die after leaning your chair back a little too far."

The above was part of a list I found called "Truths for mature humans" (link).  The moment I read the post, I viscerally knew that feeling they described.  Yes, I admit I have done it. Even though I have not had anything like this happen in the last 20 years or more, the last one was a doozie. Perhaps it is a doozie every time, for everybody.  If there was a video of that particular hi-jinks, I am sure that it would simple to pinpoint the exact moment of my epiphany.

I am positive in that millisecond that my eyes bugged out, my arms flailed, my heart raced pumping adrenaline to the farthest flung extremities of my body. I bet it would have been funny enough to Youtube for any time I have done this in my life would do, from 6 months old on to the last one.  Sure, some stand out as a better prat-fall, but that moment of realization has come with every single one of those falls.

It is the same feeling of stepping down to what should be the next stair, and your foot doesn't connect with the floor. Crossing on ice in shallow water and having it give out also gives you that flash of understanding.  Most times we we connect with terra firma before we can form a plan of action.

It is a primal knowledge.  The brain just reacts.  If we had a full moment, the wiser side of our brain would probably take over and say, "relax, this is not life threatening".  Right or wrong your saner side might even offer suggestions like "brake with your arms, go limp, curl up".  It may even go in the other direction, and inform you "well, that was a mistake, we are not walking away from this one."  That is truly the message you get in the millisecond.  The ground may not be there, the water under the ice may be deep.  You are committed to the fall, either way.

The rational mind  doesn't get that moment to take over and be in charge. Rational thought is beaten to the punch by that millisecond of pure "AAAAAAAUUUUUGGGHHH, tooooo late!!!"

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