Tag Archives: panic

Caffeination Trepidation

Cartography and Geographic Information Systems requires attention to detail, patience, diligence, and forethought. We must dedicate ourselves to the minutia of label placing, the visual hierarchy of map elements, and the psychological theories of color linked with emotions. We do this in order to convey a message to the reader. To establish a sense of place. To tell a story worth hearing. This is what is required from me. And I have neither the time nor energy to dedicate to these practices.

It is 4am and I am far from being finished with what I came here to do. I have stumbled upon the world of online TV shows and I cannot escape. There was so much I did not know that I did not know. I felt like I had to explore everything that was out there. And even though I haven’t accomplished much in terms of academic projects, there is one thing I have learned:

Caffeine + American Horror Story = Disaster.

Every mysterious creek, inexplicable draft, coincidental door shaking, and even the racket of the faulty pipeline system running throughout this building… they all are converging upon me, successfully robbing me of my sanity. If this building is even remotely haunted, then American Horror Story has only served to confirm the irrational fears that I initially had of Science Hall. Violent plot lines, brutal murders, and malicious intentions demand my attention and capture my soul. I start to put myself inside this story, blurring my sense of reality and fiction. I live vicariously through the adventures of my television heroes and heroines, each horror they experience amplified by the caffeine that pumps through my veins. I thought I would be dreaming peacefully in my bed tonight, but I just now realized that I am living a nightmare.

If I go missing tomorrow, let this update be a testament to my last moments. Let them know that my shouts were true and my paranoia was even truer. Let them know that I tried to follow the model of the “successful student”, but fell short of the unrealistic standard set before me. Let them know that I gave it my all. Or at least the little that I had left to give.

“UW Student Missing: Science Hall Strikes Again”

There’s one for the headlines.

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Flying, Falling, Freeing

I don’t know how this happened. I just know that it did. I remember earlier this year after watching “Kingsman: The Secret Service”, I wanted do everything that they did. For three weeks, I had new idols and new life ambitions. My focus on becoming a Kingsman faded with the initiation of finals week, but I still relished the idea. When my roommate mentioned it was his lifelong dream to sail through the skies at terminal velocity, my mind was made up. We were going to do it. On nothing more than a whim, I gathered information, identified cheap tandem skydiving sites, and coerced my closest acquaintances into my psychopathic fantasies of this potentially fatal pastime.

During the ride to the Wisconsin Skydiving Center, I was so psyched to be doing this. Skydiving?!? This was in my wildest dreams. And I would be doing it with my best friends. It was pure excitement. It was uninhibited joy. It would fulfill my thrill-seeking, adrenaline-crazed, sense of adventure quota for the month! Probably… But this would be a highlight of my summer. A highlight of my life.

Unlike them, we will all knew that we had parachutes… or at least we were attached to people that had them

Scene from “Kingsman: The Secret Service”, uploaded by Steve Hubbard

When we arrived at the Skydiving Center, my enthusiasm skyrocketed. We were here! I could see the hanger, the planes, and the instructors donning obscure jumpsuits. My objective was sitting right in front of me and I would waste no time to completing my mission. My roommates and I quickly signed the papers and completed the training. I didn’t really pay attention much though. I was too focused on the end result to pay attention to the basic life-saving maneuvers and standard operating procedure for basic skydiving survival skills. Talking about the experience wasn’t good enough. I couldn’t continue living vicariously through brochures and pamphlets. I want to create my own adventures.

Naturally, I volunteered to go first. I would tribute myself to appease the skies. The wind wanders aimlessly, searching to release unsuspecting travelers from the Earthly chains that bind them. We must sacrifice our Earthly natures in order to ascend. The sky has something to teach us and I was about to discover the secrets that it held most dear. Guru Laghima said it most appropriately:

“Let go your earthly tether. Enter the void. Empty and become wind.”

zaheermeditating

FAVORITE LoK Villian right here #trueflight

We would soar ever higher, above the cloud layer and over 9000(ft). But as we continued our slow ascent to the heavens above, the reality of the situation began to register in my brain. We were 10,000 above the ground. Two months ago I could only dream of the possibilities of floating among the clouds and observing the atmospheric processes that directed their movement. But now that my eyes – along with the rest of my body – could view the masses of clouds and feel the direction of airflow, I wasn’t so sure that this was what I wanted. But it did not matter anymore because we had arrived at our destination. The sky was the limit and we had reached the end of the line.

The end of the line meant that we were supposed to be ready. The instructor unlocked the latch and opened the door to my demise. My initial excitement immediately melted into a distressful terror. What was I doing at this height?!? 10,000 ft in the air? How did I get here? Before I had not questioned the sequence of events that led up to this moment, but now that was the only thought on my mind. I grabbed the rope with my hand. My mind was racing, but my heart beat faster. I put my foot on the step outside the plane. My inner being was telling me to choose life. And I was in the perfect position to fall.

But that’s why I was doing this. I wanted to live.

The time fell upon me. We were here and there was only one thing left to do. I longingly stared down to the Earth, remembering the comfort that solid ground beneath my feet gave me. I did not know what was going to happen, but I knew I had to do this. I took one last breath.

And then I began to fall.

We first fell backwards and I could only stare at the sky and wonder how there existed anything above our current altitude. But then we flipped and I was tumbling though the air, swirling in endless loops in all directions. We stabilized. I felt a rush of air blasting upward, cutting through me. Into my body and into to my soul. I tried to scream. I couldn’t hear any words. There was air all around me, but I couldn’t even breathe. I was shaking. There was no weight to my body. I didn’t exist anymore. But when I made the strange realization that I was nothing more than a disembodied conscious, it was then that I was free.

I looked towards the ground knew that I was flying. –Er, well falling. Plummeting more actually. But I was in the sky and I was the wind. I felt the acceleration of my body, falling faster and faster. And I extended my limbs to their furthest points so my entire body could capture this moment. My mouth was wide open trying to take in the experience because I knew that any attempt to gasp for air was futile. I had released my Earthly tether. I had entered the void. I emptied and became wind.

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A vicarious viewing of my socially deviant behavior

But then I was pulled upward. Yanked back into my body and out of this otherworldly experience. The parachute had deployed. Our freefall was over. We began our leisurely descent back down to Earth. And it was in these moments that I learned the most.

Now that the most exhilarating moments had fleetingly left us, it was time to reflect. My instructor told me to sit in silence and observe my surroundings. I looked across the horizon and down to the Earth, in search of new insight for my fatigued state of mind. I could see everything from up above. The organizational layout of the cities, the plots of land dedicated to agricultural production, the thin strips of black road that transport people from one location to the next. But none of the people below even knew that I was up there or that I even existed. I was an inactive participant, removing myself so I could observe the story unfolding before my eyes and the people creating it. As the wind guided us gently to the ground, it gifted me with the experience of flight and a new perspective with which I could view the world.

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7/10 for the landing – Didn’t quite stick it…

When I landed I was breathless. Partially because my heart still had not stabilized, but mostly because I couldn’t comprehend what had just happened! It wasn’t until afterwards, when I sat and reflected on the experience that I began to feel more down-to-Earth (likely because I had Earth to stand on now). But in all honesty, I did learn the power of sky. The power it has to see what others cannot. The immense beauty that it contained. And the potential for danger that it held.

Skydiving provided irrefutable evidence for my next step in life. It showed me that I should not be afraid to jump head-first into the unknown. It is where we can learn the most about ourselves and the world. It is completely necessary to push past the boundaries of our comfort zones. And sometimes it is the only way. We can move forward by being in the moment. We can welcome our journey into the uncharted lands of the future.

“… And once you have tasted flight, you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you long to return.” – Leonardo da Vinci

EDIT 08/24/15 Changed quotation credit from Zaheer to Guru Laghima – newb mistake, I know…

Reckless Abandonment

Before the completion of my junior year of college, I had promised my friend that I would spend a weekend with him in his hometown. Given the condition of my mind during the ritualistic mental torture of finals week, no one should expect the fulfillment of this promise. But a promise was a promise. Besides, I could not turn down new opportunities. Even if I was clueless as to what we would do for an entire weekend in Wausau, WI, one thing was certain. I trusted my friend. I knew he would be a good host and try to make this weekend a memorable one. No matter the circumstance, I knew that I would enjoy my time there.

It was decided. I printed my ticket, packed my bag, and used mapping software to survey the new territory I would visit. Although I digitally explored the local surroundings and gathered all necessary items, nothing could truly prepare me for the journey I was about to embark on. I would learn that the hard way.

The ride to Wausau should have been simple, tame, and uneventful. While past bus trip experiences instilled a sense of adventure and romanticized the potential for life-long friendships among total strangers, this bus trip destroyed any previous notions of idealized traveling tales. They were replaced with stories of woe and strife and many other exaggerated vocabularies to overdramatize the reality of a bus trip.

Bus transfers were supposed to be nothing more than a minor inconvenience, but this transaction of precious cargo proved to be more than just a bump in the road. I hadn’t known that we were supposed to wait for the transfer point. I decided to preemptively remove myself at the stop before the transfer location. I asked the bus driver for the location of the transfer point and I began to walk in that direction.

Little did I know that I discarded my only form of transportation and sent my dreams for a weekend retreat to the graveyard. It was reckless abandonment with the roles reversed. I had recklessly abandoned my guide. And it was time to suffer the consequences of my foolish actions. The run-off-the-mill transfer point capitalized on my less-than-average capacity for common sense and resulted in the pursuit of a bus. My happiness would have to wait.

To make matters worse, my friend’s phone would be inaccessible during the time that I was scheduled to arrive. He would not see my frantic distress signals. I might have had more luck sending smoke signals than text messages. My misfortunes had accelerated from bad to worse in a manner of seconds. Honestly, at this point I was willing to try anything.

And suddenly, the events of the day led me to a stark realization. The ticket that I had printed was obsolete. The amount of items I packed was insufficient for my extended residence in Stevens Point. The aerial photography I viewed would be the only glimpse I would ever see of Wausau.

It was plain and simple. I was stranded.