Friday, June 18, 2010

So close

To death

So many times

One moment, no not a moment, a fraction of a moment of inattention and you are dead

High risk activities where death is the penalty for failure or inattention

I have been asked many times why would anyone do this?

Why do people do these activities?

For myself several such activities were a major part of my life for many years

Some were a part of my job, others hobbies

So my answer to this question has also evolved over the years

Because in my own life I have been close to death several times

Maybe too many times

Most of them when younger, some in the army some outside, some in cars others on motorbikes, on mountains, some skydiving on skis even

So today after watching some videos of young people "pushing the envelope" I feel to say it again from where I am today

Just talking here about those where the activity takes you close to death

There are many elements involved when consciously going to the edge

I will talk about these because the others where you come close to death without planning are not about conscious efforts to push the envelope or go close to the line

They are though interesting to me in as much as I have been impressed by how fast I reacted to those situations

In a sense faster than possible

What I observed was how my mind went into overdrive instantaneously as I became aware of the danger I was in

Like clicking into another space, another level of consciousness

Time shifted, everything being brought down into slow motion

Total focus, total concentration on the situation, nothing else existing

Absolutely clear about the options available, the mind or maybe beyond mind showing in real time what choices were available

Decisions taken in fractions of seconds

The appropriate action flowing from the decision taken

Sometimes resulting in damage to myself, other times destruction of equipment or vehicles

Afterwards an acute strong feeling of relief

A feeling of being so much more alive

Colours, smells, tastes, sounds more powerful

Amazing feeling of being alive and being a part of life, living

Later usually that night sweat, shakes, let down as to how close it had been comes into focus

Always saying thanks for support and help received because seldom could I have got out of the situation without such support

For the amateur it might seem like good luck

For myself it was clear on many occasions that more than luck was involved

Then over the following days after such an escape a review of what had gone down from a to z

Lessons learnt, absorbed, retained, filed away for future use

Moving on from unplanned, unexpected near death experiences to those where you are approaching danger consciously

Different because you are aware of the possibility of death

You have already decided to go ahead

You have accepted the risks involved

You inform yourself of all possible permutations that you can

You are doing this because the activity is beyond exciting

It is taking you to an intensely private space where you test yourself with no room for failure

You are going to the edge

You choose to go there for the adrenaline rush but also for the mental and emotional rush

For the exercise and practice of detail

For the experience of being able to relax and perform under pressure in an extreme dimension

Where equipment is involved you check it thoroughly

The night before doing whatever it was I would feel nerves, not so much on the day itself

Would review all the actions I would take for the different life threatening scenarios that I could imagine arising

Doing this so that if and when one arose no time would be lost thinking

Action could then be instantaneous, often this being the only margin available

The difference between life and death

When the day and time to act arises tension and nerves are less

You focus on the actions to come

Becoming quiet with checking of preparations

Relaxation is greater as experience showed that problems arise when you are too tense

So conscious work was done to be more relaxed

Not switched off but rather focused and relaxed

Being aware of all elements that could impact on safety and performance

Then the action or activity itself

In my case moving into a different state as you move into the action

In the action being in a different state of consciousness

A different experience of time, fractions of seconds becoming infinite

Critical points and actions being approached and passed safely

End of action

Feeling of life being more intense, greater conscious and appreciation of life

At the same time a feeling of peace, enormous inner peace

Then along comes the day when things go wrong

This usually happens blindingly fast

One second all is fine the next the unexpected

Where the critical point arises and something goes wrong you are making an instant appreciation of the situation

Instant appraisal of possible actions

Selection of action

Action initiated with mind also taking in time left before impact or death and your physical location in relation to that final point

Where the action is only partially successful calm understanding of probable outcome while searching for any other possible actions to get you out of trouble


Coming conscious, pain

Huge pain

Also awareness of not being dead

Hospital treatment and the slow process of recovery

On and off thinking about what went wrong

My fault?


Other people?

Everything thought through

Decision to do it again

Training, getting fit again

First time after lay off extra tension

Do it

Huge, huge relief

What a thing to be so alive!

Private, private world

The world of shared danger, but a danger faced alone

At the time an addiction so strong that you cannot imagine life without it

For many years that was my experience

Then without really noticing other elements come into your life

You stop one day

Maybe never to do it again

For me those other things now give me more but in a very different way

My past life, my other life fades away

So strong were the experiences though that it is easy to revisit them whenever I want to

Not often now, but today I just felt like it

To try and share a bit of what that extreme point is like

Taught me a lot about myself

Maybe that is why it was so powerful

Nothing like repeated danger to learn about yourself 

Learnt somethings that would not have been possible otherwise

You cannot pretend to face your fears - you either do or you do not

Just a personal thing

A personal choice

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