This I Believe

Caleb - Baileys Harbor, Wisconsin
Entered on September 18, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: freedom

The Freedom of Between

Hey! Listen up or you’re not gonna’ be able to follow this rather disjointed and convoluted explanation! ‘Cause, let’s face it, what path to revelation isn’t messed up?!?

Part I) Adrenaline does funny stuff to your head. Slow time vs. Fast time. Combat vets talk about it, too. Fire fights that last five seconds and five hours simultaneously. That’s way out of my experience, but as a rural firefighter I get the crap scared out of me about a hundred times a year. My pager goes off and the accompanying brain tsunami of critical incident stress fired off by adrenaline totally rocks my senses. Every wave of sound, color, smell and touch takes on heightened meaning as a result of super charged awareness. The number of understood stimuli surges up way past the normal count and makes time seem fast. My brain is so full of images — it’s as if three hours have elapsed rather than three minutes. The result of such massive amounts of detailed information about every moment of the fire call is that I can minutely dissect and then examine each individual decision and movement. I can also clearly define the moment between each.

Alright… subject jump. Keep up!

Part II) Migraines do even funnier stuff to your head. Several times a year I awake to the cleaving agony of a spectacular headache. Launching out of bed, in time to dry heave repeateldly over the cool procelain retreat, leaves me shaking but clear headed for long enough to grab the flexible ice pack, wrap it around my eyes, and collapse on the couch before the next round of pain comes roaring in. Lying on said davenport, I crawl back into myself and push past the prehistoric cave lion of pain clawing at the entrance to my skull. Once inside my bony cave, I find peace waiting in the ash darkened walls of previous brain fires burned. I suspend myself within that cool dark space, between conscious and unconscious. Inactive. Once I’m nowhere, the pain can’t find me.

So, you ask… how does this free-form-jazz-fusion-fest of unrelated thought lead to enlightenment?!?

Part III) By combining the experience of both terrifying moments and excruciating pain, I have come to the belief that we are only truly free when we are between our actions. Adrenaline helps dissect each action, piece by piece, and this heightened awareness also identifies that fraction of an instant between actions. Debilitating pain causes a retreat to that moment of suspension between our actions — that “nowhere” where headache triggers can’t reach. In ordinary life, during the moment between looking at a generic grocery list and then automatically reaching out to grab the name-brand package, we are momentarily ourselves. In that suspended place between actions, we are free. Potential stretches out before us. Who, what, and how we are or might be are left undefined for those few milliseconds. Ours to be free.

This I believe.