The dark side


dare im there

What is it about military people that they can’t stay away from places where they should not be? There is a dark force in the universe that pulls them in like a giant vacuum.

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I may or may not have once been susceptible, but that was a long time ago. Today I am different. I am older and wiser. I have a family. I don’t do foolish things any more.

Except this weekend when we went tubing on a mountain. Taking an informal survey, I was (by far) the oldest person on the slope. If you can call it a slope. It was more like a not-quite cliff that becomes a slope just before the sledder/tuber hits the sagebrush at the bottom.

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Youngsters hit the mountain with abandon, finding the slickest material they could find as their vessels. Many went head first, using their faces as brakes when they hit the bushes. They reminded me of carrier quals at the aviators’ O-club.

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My steed was a truck inner tube, and at first it was safe and fun. But a little voice kept telling me to go higher up the slope, to venture where the teenage daredevils go, where the incline is almost too steep to even stand up.

My instincts, my conscience and my brain were all screaming at me to stop. I ignored them.

At first, when the tube began to speed up, I felt a brief moment of exhilaration. When it hit the moguls, however, and I began to experience periods of weightlessness as I floated above the tube, I wished I had listened to those voices who had implored me to stop.

I was going too fast.

I hit the bushes with the force of an F-18 crashing into the barrier on a carrier’s flight deck. When the tube finally hit a branch it could not skip over, it launched me like a rock out of a slingshot.

I don’t remember the actual crash, but I do remember looking up and one of the teenagers asking, “Are you OK?” He looked frightened.

A wise man once said that experience is something you get right after you need it. He was right. I will listen to the little voices from now on.

It might be time to tone it down a little. After all, I never was an aviator and there is no reason to act like one now. There are alternatives, you know, to daredevil speeds and thrill seeking.

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