Monday, June 16, 2008

June/ Chapter 19: Mere mortals

Last Sat I almost killed myself. I went to the megajunk party and because all the boats were tied together, everyone was jumping off the back. I went to dive off the back of one of the boats and slipped whilst jumping. This resulted in me over rotating and landing in the water flat on my back. My head missed the back of the junk by about 6 inches.

I've almost died or been seriously injured 5 times before as well and it's changed the way I see life and people. I'll post 2 of the incidents here.

When I was about 15 I got totally wasted at a beach party in Repulse Bay. Back then I didn't know how to control my alcohol consumption, it's not like I can now, but at least I don't have any death wishes.

For some reason that night I couldn't remember my home address so I told the cab driver to go to Queen Mary hospital which was the nearest landmark to my parent's apartment, about a mile away. I then decided not to walk down Pokfulam road, but down a foot path which was in the woods above Pokfulam road, and ran from the hospital to the HK University apartments a mile away.

The path was 3 feet wide, had no railings, at several points was 5-6 meters above the ground and running rivers...........and it was raining. I remember vaguely that I was crawling down this path. Now it takes about 15 min of fast walking to cover a mile. So I am sure I was in that pouring rain crawling for over an hour. What I find strange from the whole episode was I didn't fall off and die, and I had the survival instincts to get down and crawl but I was too wasted to even remember my own address.

About 2 years ago I was skydiving in the US and starting my AFF (accerlerated free fall) training when I almost had an accident. Parachutes these days are not opened by a rip cord, but by a small pilot chute that is pulled and thrown into the air. The small parachute opens and then drags the main chute open. It's tucked into a pocket at the bottom of the whole pack and rides around the level of the butt on the ground.

The first jump in AFF involves jumping with two instructors. One on each side, who keep you balanced as you do procedures such as practice pulls, and altimeter checks. When I went to do a practice pull on my pilot chute however I couldn't find it! What I didn't know was that in the air the entire pack floats up so the pilot chute is around the level of the lower back.

When I was unable to reach it I looked down and to the right to find the pilot chute which was a big mistake, because changing body posture just slightly changes how the air flows over the body and movement in the air by a lot. By bending to the right I put the 3 of us into a spin, and one instructor got thrown off, the other instructor then quickly pulled my pilot chute.

When the main parachute was open I looked up and the strings of the parachute were all twisted, because the parachute had opened whilst I was still spinning, so I had to kick out of the spin. To top it all off, the radio they stuck on my chest to teach me how to land the parachute wasn't working, so I had to land by myself.

Apart from not being able to find the pilot chute I was pretty calm the whole time, and only realised I had nearly killed myself when I saw the stern look on my instructor's face back on the ground. The main danger when someone goes into a spin is they lose consciousness if the blood comes out of their head. But my only thought at the time was "damn, I had just wasted US$270".

The other 3 incidents includes nearly getting run over twice. Also one time when the car I was in totally lost control on a country lane whilst going about 80 miles per hours, driven by my intoxicated GI buddy that had just returned from Iraq.

These incidents made me realize two things. Firstly I am retarded and the only reason the natural process of selection did not remove my dysfunctional genes from the gene pool was luck. Secondly, although death was a real issue in our lives most people act like they aren't aware of it. Being aware of it makes me live life differently, and relate to people differently.

A good example of how behaviour changes is if a doctor tells someone they are terminally ill. Provided the person isn't too bed ridden to do anything, that person's behaviour would change drastically. They would surround themselves with people they care about, spend laviously, and probably go see places they've always wanted to see. But they could have done that already even if they were going to live to 100.

Humans act very differently depending on how much longer they know they have to live.

Religious people that are convinced they are going to heaven when they die (live forever) will have very strong motivations to pursue a lifestyle linked to their belief. Now I say convinced because most religious people are just religious for their peace of mind, and wouldn't make real sacrifices for their religion.

The person that knows he will die soon will make the most of their lives.

But the average person is generally churning along and wasting their lives. Now I don't just mean the person that bums around at home. I personally think workaholics and people too concerned about money have it wrong as well. I love money too, since I need money to party, money to go skydiving, to go on holiday, to enjoy life, and to ensure my kids have a good lifestyle. But money should be a tool to live life more, not to be a goal and measure of achievement in life. Most people in HK are just too wrapped up in money and materalism, to the point where their careers come before their families or relationships.

We're born, we study, we work, then we die, could be tomorrow or 50 years from now. I don't really fear death, just the fear that I have not lived life fully.

I've had my share of memorable experiences, hiking in Nepal, skydiving, and traveling around the world. But with regard to relationships I got plans as well. I party pretty damn hard, more than most people I know, and that's because I'm still single. In fact I turned it up a couple of notches in recent months since I'm going to be 30 soon. Within a few years I know I will be married, and I don't want to have any regrets when I get married because I don't want to cheat on my wife. That's my reasoning behind the partying.

As for family and kids, I don't think I should have one unless I could give them the best life possible as well. Which contrary to what some HK people think, is not just about an affluent lifestyle.

If everyone else took some time to think about the time they have on earth and what they want to achieve, then lots of people will live life differently as well, and treat those around them differently.

1 comment:

Ellen said...

While I really enjoy reading your other posts as well (some of them are so funny that I laughed till I cried :D), this one has to be my favorite of all! It shows a lot about your character and pretty much explains and connects the bits and pieces of you. I respect you now. Good job! :)

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