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

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