Saturday, December 27, 2008

Crash landing

The moment I took flight, I knew that trouble lay ahead. Man was not intended to leave earth in this fashion. As I hurtled through the air out of control, I had but one thought."This is going to be bad".

I had ignored the warning signs. My body had been telling me for almost 2 weeks to shut it down. I have seemed to swallow an entire bag of stupid pills lately, and soldiered on notwithstanding the pain and the knowledge that disaster almost assuredly lay ahead. If that was not enough, my surroundings spoke to me in volumes of the dangers I was facing. I had received years of training and knew what to look for. Nevertheless, I was not to be deterred in my quest.

The morning began cold and overcast. Christmas day had brought a day long downpour, shutting off any possibility of subjecting myself to the problems I should have been avoiding. The following day I had been cautious in my efforts, and had circumnavigated the worst in front of me. I had an old friend as a companion for these few days and knew he would be disappointed if we didn't take part in this adventure. It had been more than a quarter of a century together of risking limb, and possibly life. Today was one more to add to the collection.

As we approached our destination, I began to search out the obstacles that we were to face. Guns were going off in almost every direction. As evidence of their power lay strewn for as far as the eye could see, all was not clear ahead. If sanity prevailed, I would not venture anywhere near these massive warriors.

We put on the last part of our armor, our boots. As my friend struggled mightily to secure himself properly, I could see the beads of sweat begin pouring down his face. I knew it was not fear but just the physical strains of protecting himself fully, that caused my ally so much consternation. Finally, he was ready and off we went.

We were cautious at first, staying far away from the worst of the trouble. We would ease ourselves into the water, testing slowly, toe by toe, until we were fully immersed.

Then we came upon another of our brethren. He was taller, stronger and younger. He knew nothing of fear or moderation. He could brave the best the guns had to offer and plow ahead, undeterred and unmarked. My first big mistake was following in his tracks.

He sped off and was soon out of sight. I was next to go. As I went past the first of the guns I felt somewhat unsteady. I was being tossed about. My environment was dictating my path. I steadied myself and traveled on, cautious but intact. Ahead lay another gun. I continued on, directly towards my enemy.

And then it happened. As I came into the gully, it felt like my forward motion was stopped for a split second, as if I had just hit a brick wall. In the next instant I was catapulted as if shot out of a cannon.. It would only take a second or two before I would crash and burn. I had to protect the shoulder that I had injured some 2 weeks before while in the midst of this unholy pursuit. My face was the first part of me to feel the impact. Like a body surfer trying to avoid eating some sand, I raised my head slightly.

I had to do something quickly to stop the descent. Instinctively, my arms went out in front of me. That was mistake number 2. The pain was intense. I knew that there was to be no happy ending to this story. As quickly as it began, it ended. I lay there stunned. If my appendages were still attached, my extended appendages were now back up the hill, alone and forlorn.

My friend could see I was in trouble. Soon others would happen upon us, and suffer similar fates. We were in treacherous terrain. As we all lay there, we must have collectively wondered what could have caused us to venture into the eye of the storm.

Slowly, I gathered myself up and put myself back together. Like Humpty Dumpty, I did not leave these grounds the same as when I arrived.

I was able to find my way to safety. While the danger of the moment had passed, the stupidity of my hubris was still evident. The shoulder was to be a constant reminder to me of the folly of my actions.

For now, I know but 2 things for certain. First, I will not venture out skiing again today, or for some days to come. Second, snow guns and the sticky, wet substance they spew forth will remain a safe distance from me in the future.

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