Thursday, May 07, 2009

You really can't expect the unexpected.

You really can't expect the unexpected.

My cheek is still slightly twitching from the imaginary shrapnel.

I was walking by the Daley Center after getting off the train this morning when suddenly this huge bang went off by the bike racks. Everyone froze. It took a second for it to register that everything was O.K., that someone had just set off a mid-size firecracker or something comparable, and everything was fine. Once that became clear you could see everyone's faces tighten with the realization that what had just happened was so instantaneous.

I've never been in combat, or been at the site of a suicide bombing, or any kind of bombing really. So I never realized how instantaneous those things are. After a steady diet of action movies where the hero always seems to be able to react as an explosion goes off, and comic books where the heroes doge bullets, and books that slow down an instant to span pages, I realized I have no concept of a truly unexpected moment.

One minute I was happily walking to work and the next I was standing in shock and surprise. The moment of the actual occurrence had passed before I even realized it happened. There is no rolling with the punch when it hits you in the back of the head, or dodging the bullets shot from an unseen vantage point, or responding to a train that has suddenly hit something else head on. The closest I had come to truly understanding this reality is when in a plane during either take-off or landing, when I can't see anything in front of me. I wait and wait and wait and hope that everything doesn't just suddenly stop, knowing that if it did I wouldn't have any time to react and things would most probably just stop, forever, for me. But until today I hadn't realized what it was to encounter, in the real world, something you truly didn't see coming.

Man, is that scary.

Photo by g33kgrrl

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