Yesterday Caterina was talking to a coworker about outdoor activities and vacations past. Apparently she was once quite the outdoorswoman, doing a fair amount of rock/ice climbing and mountaineering. In describing the appeal of those activities she managed to articulate something I had always hoped to explain in simple terms.
She said something roughly like this:
I have one of those minds that's always jumping around and thinking about new things--never idle. But when your life depends on every one of your next moves, you become incredibly focused on the moment. It's very calming.
(I apologize for likely butchering what she actually said in my attempt to capture the spirit of it.)
I thought about it for a few moments and realized that it's the same sort of force at work when I'm flying. Even though I'm multi-tasking in the sense that I'm considering lots of constantly changing variables in the sky, I'm also focused on the single task at hand. There's little room for daydreaming or getting interrupted by unrelated issues.
That is, in a strange way, quite calming on the brain.
It's a bit overly dramatic to say that the threat of death brings forth this peace, focus, and mental calm. But there's a grain of truth to it. Whether scaling an icy cliff or flying a few hundred feet off the ridge tops, the ultimate responsibility is in your hands. So you better pay attention to what you're doing. The consequences are non-trivial.
Posted by jzawodn at June 01, 2006 07:38 AM