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the stupidest thing I have ever done

I am in the middle of writing my take-home mid term for my last general ed class required for my degree. The fourth question of the test is stated as such:

Discuss a decision that you made that was a “wrong” one. What did you learn from it? How can one learn from faulty reasoning?

Now, had my professor known me better, she would have been incredibly less vague, but she does not know me well, and obviously doesn’t write her test questions with one particular student in mind, so I took the liberty of answering this question as comprehensively as possible. I didn’t want to exemplify some small wrong doing and lay some heavy all-encompassing, universally understandable, life shit analysis over it. So I thought of the worst thing I ever did, and since I am not a violent or cruel person, the worst thing I ever did was just fucking stupid.

Here is my response:

To illustrate the sort of person I am, and further, to emphasize how drastically erratic and seemingly inexplicable my process of reasoning is, I will recall, quite literally, the stupidest thing I have ever done. I am a skier of 17 years, but this particular event happened almost exactly a year ago— nevertheless, I was, and still am an avid, enthusiastic skier. I never owned my own skis. It wasn’t until I was 19 that I received my first full set up for Christmas. A year later, my mother and stepfather bought me a very expensive ski rack for my car, also for Christmas. Now, I am terribly dedicated and thorough to and about many things, but when it came to bringing things into my house that I shouldn’t leave in or on my car, I could be somewhat negligent. Last February I was skiing fairly often, about 3 times a week, and given that I was living in Denver, this was mildly impressive. I suppose my reasoning behind leaving my skis on the rack was to save the trip up and down the 3 flights of stairs I had to climb to my studio at the time. It was about 12:30 on a Wednesday, late last February that I was driving to my mother’s house on I-25 south, just about to ascend the last hill on the highway before the signs appeared to indicate the Santa Fe and Alameda exits. It was here that I noticed a quick, alarming sound. I looked in the rear-view mirror only to see my rack sliding off the back of my car with my precious skis locked firmly to it. I panicked, already in the fast lane, I pulled over as quickly as I could, not really knowing why, with no particular plan of action. A reasonable person would have emitted a generous load of verbal profanity, assaulted the steering wheel and other nearby car interior, made a few frustrated phone calls seeking empathy, and written the whole thing off. I, however, as immaculately evident by my following actions, am not a reasonable person. I stopped my car, turned off my engine and turned on my hazards—mind you, the “shoulder” I was parked on was hardly a shoulder, and barely the width of my small Subaru. I proceeded to exit my car, and ran, crying and screaming hysterically back in the opposite direction of traffic. Cars were flying by at 60-75 miles per hour, as it was mid-afternoon and traffic was minimal. I think I remember several car horns— honking, as if to question me, at once, about what the fuck I was doing. They knew of course–the cars passing me–what I was running for. I stopped nearly 50 meters up from my car, looked out into the second to left lane of the 5 lane highway to watch my skis being dodged and pummeled by oncoming traffic. It was in this moment that I lost all regard for safety, for sanity, for anything. In that instance I experienced a certain moment, a moment existent only for the prodigiously confident, and even then, only if they should find themselves in such a dire set of circumstances; a moment, I’m sure, most people can and will never experience, for, I believe, most people are sane. I ran forward, my trajectory perfectly perpendicular to that of the oncoming traffic, grabbed one ski with my right hand while simultaneously pivoting backwards on my left leg, drawing on every ounce of strength and coordination my body could produce to reverse the direction of my motion instantaneously and propel myself back to the shoulder. No sooner had my head turned back the other way and my hand fly uncontrollably forward did it brush the white car that flew past me, barely appearing to me as a solid, but rather some white cumulus blur whose speed undoubtedly indicated their lack of awareness for my inexcusable presence in the middle of the fucking highway. I paused there only for a moment, as I was reminded briefly of my mortality before I leapt to the shoulder and ran back screaming in agony and hysteria to my car.
Now, I should have never told my mother about this incident. A year later and she still reports nightmares. I can’t tell you why I really did this. I can only discern motive from the nature of my very existence; from a certain element that influences every decision I make. After a lifetime of pondering and deliberation, I have identified this element as, as stated previously, a prodigious and unmerciful confidence; the sort of genuine stuff skyscrapers are made of. It is a precarious trait to possess I suppose, but an incredibly powerful one, regardless of the manner in which it is utilized. The story I just told was the absolute worst exploitation of this trait I have ever committed, and my monumental fault was self-evident. I forget I am subject to the laws of physics sometimes, or that my outward thoughts are heard differently in the minds of others than they are in mine. I try to remember these things everyday; I try to remember that without careful consideration of seemingly inconsequential decisions, the greater decisions may never have the opportunity to present themselves. True. Anyway, the point is, I really love skiing.


About TARA

American Photographer. Musician. Writer. Science enthusiast.
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