Horizon at Sandy Point

Friday, September 10, 2010

Changing lanes

Do you notice how you responded to that last close call on the highway? The car weaving across your lane. In a split second, you hit the brake, checked the mirrors, and seeing nothing in the on-coming lane, pulled sharply over, avoiding impact by a hair's breath. By the time you are safe and cruising again,  your breath is coming in gasps, your blood pumping, heart racing. Another narrow escape that seems to leave your memory as soon as your body is calm again.

What about the time that the car weaving over did make contact with your bumper. You recall it afterwards in mini-second slices. You see the car weaving over, check mirrors and realise that you can't swerve into the other lane, can't speed up, can only try to stop. So you see the collision in slo mo; feel the crunch.You are super calm, almost out of body. The adrenalin rush happens after the impact when there's no possibility of a "flight response."

What interests me is the heightened awareness that we seem able to tap into when there is a crisis. Is this real in our brains, or something that we conjure up after the fact? How does the brain slow down time so that responses are felt and remembered in an expanded version?

You would be surprised to know that this power to slow down time is something we can actually turn on. Check:

1 comment:

  1. It is real and not just conjured up after the fact. I have a very clear memory of a situation like that, where it seemed we were going to have a head on accident, at top highway speeds. I was not driving. I was about 25 years old.

    I thought, very focused, that I didn't want to die yet. That I had so much more to do. But it was not a panicked thought. Just facing death directly. And funny enough, I did think about the Trinidad concept, of dying 'stupid', which I had just encountered a short time before this incident.