Friday, July 29, 2011

What do we really perceive? ~ "Hit the Wall" ~

We perceive the environment through the reflection of memory.
Everything we see, hear, touch, feel are only perceived through, or by the reflection of  memory.
When we perceive through our body senses, they are delivered first to our memories from which we then see, much like a theater screen reflecting the illuminated image from the projector.
This is not just me saying this but is what has been found from extensive research. We actually do not see directly!
Recently discovering this, it caused me to recall something that happened to me some 30 years ago, while riding motorcycles and getting in way over my head and thinking I was surely going to die.

There is a common phenomena which experienced racers have voiced called "hit the wall". This phrase is the most common choice of words associated with this perception change because it happens when you have lost complete mental predictive control and are at that very moment, contemplating hitting the wall, or crashing.
It has also been paraphrased as "crash and die" because the association with this perception change is that you are about to crash and die.
It is at a point, immediately after the decision and relinquishment of control, by self willed choice, that the perception change occurs.
The characteristics of what these racing enthusiasts describes are most often stated as entering a state of "slow motion" where everything that was happening at great speed, is now happening at a crawling and completely predictable pace.
Where just milliseconds before, things were happening so quickly that the mental choice to give up, "hit the wall" and "crash and die" was the only option.
I am told that once it happens the first time, that the reoccurrence of it becomes more and more frequent.
A Formula One National Champion race car driver named Jackie Steward was acting as a Broadcast Television announcer at a race where the course of the track was mostly obscured impossible to see at many points by the driving participants until they were practically there. The co-announcer asked Jackie how drivers coped with this problem while at great speeds. When Jackie started to answer the question, I could not believe what he was saying on a National Televised event.
He started to explain what he did while racing on that very course and others as standard practice for him and most other consistent winning drivers he knew.
(finish Jackie Steward statements and get race course name and date of race program)

So what happened?
I would have never known of this manifestation had it not happened to me while riding motorcycles. It first happened one day while riding down Topanga Canyon in Southern California. I was 16 at the time and stupid! It was a bright sunny day with clear perfect riding conditions. I had felt ill before leaving on that ride and thought that the demands placed on me while riding would help me kick whatever was trying to sicken me.
While riding I began to get the chills to the point of nearly loosing control of the bike. At that point I decided to high tail it back home in a hurry before something undesirable happened. As I was traveling down Topanga Canyon Drive, I came to the last blind right hand sweeping corner and was going faster than usual. Half way through the turn I noticed a stream of water running across the road. It looked to be about a foot wide, and appeared to be a river in my own mind at the time. I looked for alternative routes to avoid it and noticed a clearing directly across the road appearing straight ahead. I began to consider the maneuver needed to come off the right leaned over position I was in to straighten up and veer left for that dirt clearing but then remembered the 80 foot straight drop off down to the Topanga river that I would be visiting if I couldn't stop on that dirt surface in time. Just at that moment, several on coming cars, in the lane I would need to cross, appeared. I realized I was stuck and decided to mentally completely give up! Every visual, auditory and body awareness perception immediately shut down. All was completely black, as if I had just gone unconscious and I couldn't stop it. When everything turned back on, as if the computer completely rebooted, I had successfully maintained my trajectory, still in a hard right leaned down turn. I awakened just in time to straighten the bike back up to stay on the now straight road ahead. Meanwhile there was a stream of cars in the on coming lane but something was very different. These cars could not be going faster than 10 miles an hour and so I immediately began to wonder why. At that point I looked down at my speedo to find I was doing 60 and double checked my visual perceptions of the road, cars, speedo, road, trees, cliffs, speedo, over and over, eyes flashing in quick succession. Sure enough I was doing 60 but my perception was as if I was going maybe 20. What had happened? Did I just die? A myriad of thoughts came successively to mind.
It was at that point that my analytical senses were beginning to take back the reins. As I reflected on the incident, I remembered the first visual perception change. It was exactly as if there were pictures moving across my vision from right to left and then the pictures immediately slowed and stopped but appeared stuck in between pictures. This was just like what you see when a projector stops feeding the film. Nothing but a black strip with some sight of pictures on either side and then to nothing but solid black!
I pondered this the hole way home, interspersed with violent chills, shaking and the continuing perception of everything in 10 to 20% slow motion. It felt virtually impossible to have anything surprise me. The perceived capability of control was stellar.
When I arrived home, I almost didn't want to spend the time to kick stand the motorcycle. My attention had been diverted from my time warp experience, completely shifted to my chilled feelings. All I wanted to do was find a soft place to convulse in the fetal position, which is exactly what I did. I went unconscious then, later to be awakened sometime later by the family doctor. He checked me over as said I had broken the flu fever and that I was now below normal temp by several degrees.

A few months had passed and I was off riding to Palmdale, CA to meet up with three riding friends to explore the desert roads. It was about an hour ride with winds gusting strongly sideways across the highway. At speed, those winds shifted the motorcycle to a 45 degree or greater angle to counteract them and keep going straight. The gusts made this transition lean very quick. It was disturbing my expected relaxing ride and making the adrenalin flow.
I was riding a Norton 750 Commando that I had custom made into what was called in England, a Cafe Racer. It was fitted with Clip-on handlebars, a long high capacity aluminum gas tank and single seat arrangement. Dual disc brakes and Barnes billet hubs were cross 4 laced Borrani Wheeles, state of the art at that time. The foot peg assemblies were custom fabricated to move them higher and further back, allowing for a greater lean without them touching or scraping the pavement in turns.
The handlebar configuration allowed for much less leverage for initiating turns. For those who know motorcycle design and engineering, the front wheel trail had been lengthened to increase stability but made initiating turns slower and more difficult. This is what set me up for my next "hit the wall experience happening that day.

We were just beginning the ride when I got excited and took off. My friend Frank and I were side by side going into a hard left turn. He stayed with me longer that I had anticipated entering the turn. He was on my right and closest to the straight up rock wall. Then I "hit the wall", the same scenario occurred exactly at the moment of my thinking that I was not going to make that turn and crash into the rock wall or force Frank to, appeared unavoidable. Everything went completely black, very disconcerting at that most crucial moment of time! It all happened much faster this second time and I did not notice any pictures stopping, all went black like a turned off switch. Vision reappeared, having negotiated the turn with Frank safely behind me. To this day, I have no recollection of what transpired during either of these "hit the wall" moments. They are completely devoid of any recollection. It is like the memory mechanism completely shut down.
Subsequently my perception of time changed dramatically. For the rest of that 5 hour riding day, everything was perceived at a crawling, slow motion pace. I had time to think distracted thoughts while at a 100 MPH without any concerns. Noting was "getting ahead of me" or my predictive perceptions. Effortless and easy, riding twice as fast as usual without any fear or mental triggered warnings of consequences.

I remember Jackie Stewart talking about his racing while viewing from above and attempted to properly word it for a google search. Here's what I found.
Book: Overdrive ~ Formula One in the Zone   Author : BROLIN, Clyde
ISBN10 : 0956473806
ISBN13 : 9780956473806
Within the pages of Overdrive, superstars from a range of other sports confirm this mystical 'Zone' is accessible in any field. Accounts by everyone from astronauts to musicians to stuntmen to chefs indeed prove it is available to all of us. But in motor racing only the masters tame it, bending time and space as they speed to Earthly laps of the gods.
At their finest hours racing's greats go beyond their usual world-class ability to this Zone, an otherworldly state of consciousness that lets them fly. The timesheets tell of raw speed but inside their heads they are not remotely revved up. All is totally, blissfully calm. Featuring exclusive interviews with dozens of stars of F1 and other sports, Overdrive shows how essential this Zone is for finding the true limit.
9. Driving out of your skin
If bending time can be rationally explained by medical science, bending space cannot. Yet in one accident Jackie Stewart recalls clearly watching himself from a few feet above his cockpit. This Out-of-Body Experience is not even limited to the crash - as biker Troy Bayliss and multiple world touring car champion Andy Priaulx reveal.  (what others say about this phenomena)

Risking, Racing, Flying, Skiing, Fighting gets you there, in the here and now, right NOW. The greater the risk, the better
importances are reevaluated which makes you have to be-here-now, doing what you are doing while you are doing it.
This is the addiction to risking, you feel so ALIVE, you become your true self. So what changes or moves away then? What's in the
way most of the time? Why do we need to challenge?
Is there another way? Yes there is!

This is a communication attempted with words. It may not match the intent. It will be revised, it will be changed, it is not done
and may never be.

2011 © sojournersoul

2011 © currentoccupant

2011 ©

1981 © Tom Pedersen

Monday, July 11, 2011


Life is so very interesting I am left to wonder just why life is?

Just at the time where most everything that could be, appears to be going awry. This is a first time in my memory of this life, where anything that can go wrong is going wrong. Where things mechanical have almost always worked reliably and without demand for attention are breaking or falling apart so quickly. Where every endeavor to make my life better by finishing up incomplete past chosen tasks are failing. Where anything I need to do such tasks (such as a laptop) ends up in financial loss and useless thwarted folly. Where my child falls and severely hurts herself in the confines of our own living room with no particular reason, suffering a concussion and could have been killed by a change of  mere inches of the blow to her head. These are but a few of the things over these recent months that are going on around me, I ask why? Then THIS begins to happen…………..I watch as someone close, I did not know how close, become ill.

Today I watched my most favorite individual example of how to live I’ve ever met, die. Today I watched as this exemplary inspiration of how to take in life, pass into death in the exact same way he lived life, expecting nothing better, asking for nothing more, wanting nothing other than what was happening at every moment being currently experienced.

He was a sort of person that inspired everyone that came in contact with him and without trying or without his own knowing. His gentleness and laid-back attitude was at times awe-inspiring. He took things in as they were dealt to him without any hesitation, without expectations of something better. Whether those around him watching considered it good or bad, to him it was all the wonder of living. His affection for those around him, regardless of who they were, was constant, given freely and relentless. Every sense was active and alive; with each breath he was experiencing all that was around him with zest and vigor. Wherever he was it was just fine with him, whomever he was with, that was all there was. To him nothing else existed but what was there now. Each morning was embraced with tremendous excitement, he couldn’t wait to see, experience and embrace what was waiting for him outside the safety of home. For him each day was something to take in, to behold, and to cherish. Never once did I get any hint of his wondering, “is that all there is?”, “isn’t there someone better to be with?”, “something better to be doing?”, something else to have or experience?”. The most admirable trait that I so wish I had was that of being satisfied and content with exactly “what is” at any given moment. Not once contemplating what “could be” or “should be”, not being distracted from the experience of the moment by any desire of something else. Life as it was being lived was his best and most vivid dream! There was nothing better, nothing worse. Oh what joy to be like that, what pleasures and exciting times it must have produced. Without the need of approval or affection, he could give it freely and without reservation. Without contemplating what was good or bad everything was “just fine” as it is and as it was. There was no moment other than “this one”, the moment he experienced now. For him, there was no better place than “this one” the place he is in now.

Thought I only knew him for 4 brief months, his example has cut deeply into my psyche. Every loss that I have ever experienced has touched this same place that he touched in our daily interaction. Thanks to him, I am gracefully left confronting this deep place, the place I avoid for the pain that exists there. This place I have created for myself to sulk, cry and justify my failures. This place built by my own expectations of a world I wish were like the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life”.

By example alone and without intending; He has given me a perspective of living that I had partially and sometimes completely forgotten. I had lost sight of the continuous desire for and thus, how enjoy life! By my continuously wanting, continuously running to the next place, continuously searching and seeking something better than what and where I am I lost that which is true value. This has completely clouded my view of what is of the utmost importance! I have become such the effect of my environment that I had little causality left with to see, with which to perceive and embrace. I had little left in me to experience with, as it was all wrapped up in “what could be” nothing was left for “what is”. I had become a “consumer” and the acquisition of “things” were being owned as a substitute for what life was offering. All I could see was “things”. I was so caught up in “acquiring” that I had forgotten what I really needed, ironically while coercing myself into thinking I’m having it all.

Being here without expectations, without desires, without conditions, without assurances or permanence is all there is. Life offers experiences without guarantees. This individual showed me that to expect more than just being here is setting myself up for folly. He showed me by example that it is by looking to “better the moment” that I was creating my own building blocks of hell. He has taught me that by having a “choice” and making choices, I must accept what I have chosen. As a result, the good outcomes of those choices and the wrong ones as well, are of my own by choosing. Nothing and no one else is presenting outcomes without my active participation. If I am to seek out my choices by inspired desire, frequently the opposite, which I detest, or which is repugnant will also be brought into existence, brought into my experiences of  “the moment”. What happens then is, I must avoid “the moment”, run from it to another, run somewhere and some time that is “better”. I then must make another choice! I must “be” somewhere else, I must do something different, and I must have something other. Making choices then becomes a vicious circle of unwanted moments, each one forcing yet another choice be made, never having the pleasure of “the moment” at hand. He taught me that my own judgments and resulting choices are the source of all forces which now appear as both for and against me in “the moment” I’m experiencing. Yes this was the greatest loss of all, the loss of myself and the unrecognized substitution of “me” for “things”, “other times, places and events” than the moment I am currently in. It is the very loss of the greatest gift of life, the gift of present time perception, or just undivided attention directed toward present time.

Such were the inspirations through his daily living that he unwittingly gave me that I now contemplate and hopefully learn. I am left with tears in my eyes and continually wondering why was it that he had to go? Why was such a wonderful example of how to live life gone while so many less giving, less trusting, less worthy, still live? May the way you lived continue to endear me with the way you saw life, the way you embraced without question every moment with precious excitement. Yes I am still judgmental but now I know it and can work on changing. I have renewed and growing but currently little hope for many others in doing so without the benefit of such an example as he continually presented. May everyone be blessed with such an example for living. To be taught without being aware of it. 

The identity of this spiritual being may still be a great surprise to you! See the blog posting entitled "Monster II" for his epitaph. 

Tom Pedersen  ©  28 April 2004

Monster II

This was the Spirit of a Cat I had the pleasure of living with named “Monster”. Good by Monster, thank you for being. Thank you for the lesson.

Monster the cat and Monster the spirit unwittingly symbolized for me, true honor and integrity by how he lived.

His affection and display of love was without reservation, risking everything and full unguarded exposure at each display. I know of no human capable of such wide-open expression. We are afraid of affinity. We discern instead.

His existence reminded me of what I lacked, what I had lost somewhere along the way. The remembrance of having lost much of my own integrity and honor is very hard to confront or deal with.

The thing that is hitting the hardest is that he had no idea, no judgmental perception, unlike being shown by another person with intent; he just lived while I watched and pondered within myself why.

I put up no resistance to his message because he wasn't sending any, and so it got through in spades, to the core. I didn't even know it.

Even at the very end, his honor and his acceptance of what life dealt was true. I am sure I can say that would not have been the case with me, I'd be maximally self-indulged and whining all the way. He would sit up and try to appear as nothing was wrong. His love was beyond self. No human would stoup so low.

As far as I can now see, mankind is faulty, chickenshit and below not above the animal kingdom. We "reason", we "think" and we justify our "position" against others and escape our own guilt with these tools.

We use every one of these tools to "evade the moment" not to embrace it and make it our own. Our defense shields are held high while our dishonor remains hidden deep in the piles of justifications we have built for ourselves.

Everything requires "discernment" by man.
Every person teaches, expects, requires, forces "discernment" as a way of living.
To me now, "discern" is a pompous esoteric term for "bullshit" (denial, ego, evasion, self-aggrandizement).

We as humans live in a world without true interconnecting spirit wedged apart by our beloved "discernments" while animals just live with no discerning, no guarded or hidden agenda. They live to experience. We live to "learn" how to avoid experience.
Mankind is digressing not progressing. We're going the wrong way!

This realization in myself and for humankind is recognitive of the greatest loss of all.

Through observing Monster (the minuscule lowly cat's daily living) I now have a firm grasp on what "honor", "integrity" and the gift of living really is.

Tom Pedersen  © April 2004