On Hucking One’s Carcass

You might thing that jumping off tall rocks on skis is not only dangerous, but stupid as well, given that there’s often other ways to the bottom of the rocks that don’t endanger one’s femurs.  I’d have to agree with you.  Nevertheless, I still jump off rocks, and I find the activity not only thrilling, but inherently pretty interesting, as the contemplation of the act beforehand is a quick route into the machinations of fear.

Standing at the top of a cliff yesterday, I got pretty scared.  Scared enough, at least, that my heart began to beat loudly and I could hear myself breathing faster in anticipation.  It’s not a natural thing to throw yourself off a precipitous edge, especially when the outcome is uncertain and when even the distance to the ground is difficult to gauge.  Thought the landing may be (and hopefully is) covered in soft snow, the rocks in between takeoff and landing look painful to meet.

When arriving at and contemplating air travel on skis, I find that there is a window of about 10 seconds during which the decision to take off can be easily made, as there’s not enough time for the brain to substantially object to your proposition. After that ten seconds, the rational mind has to jump in and wrinkle the process.

The rational mind is exquisitely good at blurring the line between fearful rationalizations and reasonable safety objections, so once these ten seconds have passed, the matter of throwing one’s body off of a rock seems to become much more complicated than it was mere seconds before.

It is challenging to decide to what degree the mind’s objections are worth heeding, and to what degree they are merely self-limiting.  One doesn’t want to break one’s femurs, as that confuses one’s summer schedule considerably, and it’s a costly event as well.  On the other hand, if one relies upon one’s mind and its fears to direct one, then to remain on the safest sofa possible will be one’s path.  That leads, I think, to little satisfaction, and overall few interesting stories to tell at parties.

Is there a legitimate chance that jumping off this rock will lead to injury?  Certainly, but it’s the probability and the severity that have been skewed by my mind.  Further, and more annoyingly, the very interruption of the overprotective rational mind has disrupted my calm and has likely increased my chance of poor execution in a measurable way.  That, folks, is irony.

Most interesting to those of you who concern themselves with overcoming their fears, there is a small portion of the brain which seems to remain separate from the fire going on inside of your helmet in the contemplation of risky flight.  This small portion possesses a tiny override button.  I imagine this button as an amusingly undersized red disk with the words “fuck it” printed thereupon in small point font.   When you recognize that there is part of you that remains detached and unafraid, execution becomes a simple matter of getting yourself to push the button.

There are any number of foolish techniques available to achieve this, but my favorite is the absurd attachment of my self-respect to my desired outcome.  You can’t back out now, you pussy.  Hike up your skirt and point em’.  Other available techniques include mild chemical intoxication, or the use of self-destructive attitudes, though these each have their respective drawbacks.

It takes very little time to shift one’s body weight and rotate a pair of skis, with regards to the fall-line, from the perpendicular to the parallel position.  When it comes to throwing oneself from heights, this constitutes pressing that amusingly undersized red disk emblazoned with profanity and thus forging a kind of Ulysees pact in which your future self is bound to the commitments of your mad present self, for it takes but a short moment to accelerate to such a pace that to attempt to bail would be disastrous.

The ensuing moment is viscerally hilarious, as the whole mind and body object to having been gravitationally committed, but their protest is like that of an unwilling toddler being dragged across a busy avenue; if they had their way, they’d likely be flattened regardless.

More amusing still is the behavior of the fearful mind when skis successfully reunite with ground, as it immediately reorients and pretends to have been hip to the thing all along.  The danger now removed, it’s as cool as ice.  What, me?  Scared?  Nah, I was just waiting for those other skiers to go past so that I wouldn’t scare them with my mighty feats.  Go on about your day, I’ll see you when I’m finished being superior.

Category: Skiing

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