Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Life's Like a Movie, Write Your Own Ending

Ever think they are beginning to associate people with relatively effortless snacks?

As shark attack season gets started in the US, it was already a long summer for a few surfers on the North Shore of Australia. In just three weeks this past February, there were 3 major attacks with 2 resulting in lost limbs. But it's the third attack that has pulled me in this time. Two dedicated surfers from the UK, a fit 40 something dad, Charles, and his teenage son, Andrew, were out in the morning hours doing what they love when the unthinkable happened.


Just feet in front of him, Charles' son was bitten by an 8ft Great White. In a recent BBC interview, Charles describes the events, "I didn't have time to be terrified. Felt like I was an actor in a movie and watching a movie all at the same time and just doing what I had to do. What I had to save my son." Moments after the shark bit into Andrew's leg and as the water swelled around him now red with his son's blood, his father somehow managed to get him back to shore and use his board tether as a tourniquet. The shark missed his major artery and Andrew is still recovering but will have an extremely wicked scar which will surely impress potential mates.

When bad stuff happens, I mean really bad stuff, the rift that is created between body and mind is truly fascinating. Wiki tells me that car crash survivors often describe the crash as it would be seen from above the car. Because the brain is so surprised by what is actually happening in front of the eyes, it sort shifts perspectives, probably preventing us from dying of fright. When Charles saw his son in the jaws of that shark, that disconnect allowed him to take action. He did and watched himself doing it at the same time.

Apparently, scientists can create an out of body experience in a lab.

This phenomenon has been around way longer than the moving picture, yet I'm struck by how much we humans now rely on comparing our lives to film. We've had the ability to see the world from outside of ourselves, in our imaginations, dreams and through out of body experiences like the one above for all of recorded history and then some most likely. But the language of film has become so pervasive, it's just way easier to refer to it instead of to try and describe something from our imagination. Film has probably altered the way we mentally record happenings too, but movies have been in us the whole time. The technology just had to catch up with our imagination.

Our lives, our art, this human struggle we're compelled to make sense of, these are the reasons you'll never hear me say, "it's just a movie."

See the BBC report on Andrew's attack here.