Santa Cruz Good Times

Monday
Dec 22nd
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

‘So Far, I’m Immortal’

sven_davis2Thanksgiving is always a good time to take stock of your luck. At the table, many families take turns relating something to be grateful for. In such a shared setting, we usually talk about nice things in the world that we can all be thankful for: friends and family, roofs over our heads, California weather, Smartwool socks, anyone who makes the political landscape look less bleak or at least funny, the rise of the American microbrew.

This year, I felt thankful for something of a more selfish nature. I was thankful for being alive, because I recently realized the odds were against me. And I suspect that if you did the math, you would feel the same.

I started to appreciate the unlikelihood of being not only alive but generally unscathed after sharing some near-miss stories with friends over a pitcher or two. We could each think of at least two events in our lives in which we had about a 50 percent chance of survival. Illness, cliffs, cars, water and ice had variously attempted to snuff us out, and with the help of our waitress, we calculated the odds of any one of us surviving two mortal coin-tosses were one in four (yes, this is probably fourth grade math and we should be embarrassed we needed help, but the waitress had been in fourth grade more recently). Later she came back, calculator in hand, and pointed out that the odds of all four of us being around to tip her generously were under half a percent. Had it not been for all the beer, it  would have been sobering.

Maybe I’m just in a morbid frame of mind lately, but since then I’ve remembered other close calls, and though they weren’t in the 50-50 category, they add up. I worked for years with power tools, high ladders, live electricity, and nasty chemicals. I’ve gone beyond my abilities surfing, climbing, mountain biking, parachuting, and kayaking. I’ve driven hundreds of thousands of miles, many as a teenager. When the ’89 quake hit, rocks and dirt rained all around me from the ocean bluff I was sitting against, reading (note: the dog next to me provided no warning). With every close call, no matter how small, the odds just keep getting worse.

And yet I have all my extremities, both my eyes, and no major scars. Amazing, I’m thinking, and all that doesn’t even take into account what I can’t remember: early childhood. Toddlers are uncannily drawn to the most dangerous elements in their environment and somehow get away with it (“Get out of the oven, honey.”). According to Family Circus cartoons, it’s usually the ghost of Gramma saving them, but I like to think if Gramma were treated to an afterlife, she’d be lounging in a paradise of gin and swing music, not minding the kids again.

Heck, I could go back even farther—during the Cuban missile crisis, I was still in my mama’s belly. Kennedy later estimated the odds of that conflict triggering a nuclear war were one in three. So I was literally born lucky.

After that first conversation, my friends too have been recalling more instances where they managed to skate past life’s hazards. These memories seem to be buried in shallow graves in our subconscious; they can be found if you bother to look. To those who find this unsettling, I’m sorry, but I’m also somewhat relieved to see it’s not just me who can compute his odds of surviving intact at less than 20 percent.

Like most people, I get more risk-averse as I get older. I’ve always wondered what that was about, but now I think of it as an instinct to not press my luck. with every passing year, there’s more luck to press. If it’s statistically unlikely that I got this far, I’d hate to blow it now. I was thinking of going mushroom hunting for my birthday this week, but maybe not now.

Obviously, something isn’t adding up. If life were so dangerous, far fewer of us would be around long enough to complain about cell phones in bathrooms and kids these days. Sure, we all have peers who didn’t make it, who died tragically along the way. It seems amazing, though, that we haven’t lost more. So the way I see it, it can only be explained by luck, divine intervention, or a bad statistical analysis. The skeptic in me assumes it’s the math, but I’m disinclined to look too closely. I’m happy to believe that you don’t have to walk away from a plane crash to feel lucky to be alive. I only hope that after all this, when it’s time for me to go it’ll be due to some statistically improbable event, like getting hit by an asteroid. When you visit my grave, it’ll read: “Even in death, he beat the odds.”

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Is This a Dream?

A beginner’s guide to understanding and exploring the uncanny world of lucid dreams

 

Giving and Giving, Then Giving Some More

2014 is almost over. Wednesday, Dec. 17, the Jewish Festival of Light, Hanukkah, begins. We are in our last week of Sag and last two weeks of December. Sunday, Dec. 21 is winter Solstice, as the sun enters Capricorn (3:30 p.m. for the west coast). Soon after, the Capricorn new moon occurs (5:36 p.m. for the west coast)—the last new moon of 2014. Sunday morning Uranus in Aries (revolution, revelation) is stationary direct (retro since July 22). Uranus/Aries create things new and needed to anchor the new culture and civilization (Aquarius). We will see revolutionary change in 2015. Capricorn new moon, building-the-personality seed thought, is, “Let ambition rule and let the door to initiation and freedom stand wide (open).” Capricorn is a gate—where matter returns to spirit. But the gate is unseen until the Ajna Center (third eye), Diamond Light of Direction, opens. Winter solstice is the longest day of darkness of the year. The sun’s rays resting at the Tropic of Capricorn (southern hemisphere) symbolize the Christ (soul’s) light piercing the heart of the Earth, remaining there for three days, till Holy Night (midnight Thursday morning). Then the sun’s light begins to rise. It is the birth of the new light (holy child) for the world. A deep calm and stillness pervades the world.The entire planet is revivified, re-spiritualized. All hearts beating reflect this Light. And so throughout the Earth there’s a radiant “impress” (impressions, pictures) given to humanity of the World Mother and her Child. The star Sirius (love/direction) and the constellation Virgo the mother shines above. For gift giving, give to those in need. Give and give and then give some more. This creates the new template of giving and sharing for the new world.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Stocking Stuffers

The men behind the women of the Kinsey Sicks Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet explain their own special brand of ‘dragtivism,’ and their holiday show at the Rio
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Tramonti Pizza

Why there’s no such thing as too much Italian food in Seabright

 

Guitar or surfboard?

Guitar. The closest thing I ever came to surfing was sliding down a rock hill. Charlie Tweddle, Santa Cruz, Hats and Music

 

Fortino Winery’s Intriguing Charbono

At the opening celebration of the new Santa Clara Wine Trail in August, one of the wineries we visited was Fortino. This is where I first tasted their intriguing estate-grown Charbono—a varietal that is one of the rarest in California, with only 80 acres grown statewide.

 

Beyond the Jar

How Tabitha Stroup has built her rapidly expanding jam empire