Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Youthful bravado!

When I was an undergraduate student, a few friends and I planned to spend a couple of days in Ooty and Conoor, which were only a short bus ride away.  When I updated my parents, my father--who was all too familiar with those areas--had only words of caution about youthful bravado.

In those bad old days, inexpensive digital cameras had not even imagined, and the roll-film cameras were too expensive for us regular guys.  But, the brain is an awesome camera that holds plenty of still and moving images.  One of those images that I remember all too well is of a friend and me sitting right at the very edge at Dolphin's Nose.  At the edge.  Which made two other visitors nervous enough to warn us.  But, we sat there anyway.

Youthful bravado, indeed.  And this was by me, who usually lives a boring life!

I would think that the young have always done plenty of stupid things, all through our human story on this planet.  It is there in our genes.  I don't imagine other animals engaging in youthful bravado.  I bet that a young dog tries to stay away from anything that might put its life in danger.  A young lion carefully picks its fights.  Not us humans though.

This youthful bravado becomes even more a problem in these times of digital cameras, GoPro, Instagram, and YouTube, and more.

I am now the father worried about youthful bravado.

Worried I was when the friend and I hiked to the beautiful Tamolitch Falls, also known as Blue Pool.  It was a two-plus mile hike in from the parking place, which was already overflowing.  The hike was a constant flow of humans, and mountain-bikers.  Used to the quiet and lonely walks, I now felt as if I was in the middle of Ranganathan Street!

The pool was spectacular, yes.

But, the youthful bravado on display made a nervous Nellie out of me!

The cliffs seemed about thirty to seventy feet from the water.  We are familiar with the cold temperature of the waters of the McKenzie, and I guessed that the water temperature was maybe about 38 to 40 degrees.  Ice cold.

Youthful bravado.  Every few minutes, I could hear (I couldn't bear to watch) a young man jumping from the cliff down into the water.  A young woman in her bathing suit was swimming for a long time in the middle of the frigid pool.  I was sure I would witness an unfortunate accident.  In an area without cell signal, it would be a long time before rescue arrived.

The friend and I left in a hurry after finishing our lunch.

Today's paper has this news item:
A Texas teenager was seriously injured Monday while attempting to dive from a cliff into Blue Pool.
That teenager was a 17-year old girl.

She is fortunate to be alive, and with only a hip fracture.  Yes, people have also died at that pool.  But look at the timeline of this girl's accident:
Her jump: 12:30 pm
Bystander walks 2 miles to call 911:
First responders arrive: 3:00 pm
Finally, "40 personnel assisted with the rescue mission" help with getting her on to an Army National Guard Blackhawk helicopter at 5:43 pm.
In poor countries, the youthful bravado is held under check because the young people know that there is no concept of taxpayer-funded "search and rescue."  If I had fallen off that edge thirty years ago, well, that would have been the end of me, which is why I was so carefully perched there and not moving even a tad.

I suppose we humans are remarkably stupid animals as much as we are remarkably intelligent creatures!


Ramesh said...

Its a double edged sword. A culture that shuns all risks will stagnate. A culture that takes insane risks will self destruct. Within those extremes, there's a wide variety of comfort zones for different people. Some will not cross the road. others want to walk on a tightrope between 100 storey buildings.

When we are young, we believe in our endless capabilities and talents. If we didn't we'll never go anywhere. Hence the greater risk appetite. As we grow older, life's knocks teach us to be more circumspect.

Who's to say what is the thin line that divides acceptable risk taking from madness.

Sriram Khé said...

Yes, we humans will not have reached where we are now if it were not for various risk-takers. If those ancestors hadn't risked their lives when they decided to wander away from East Africa ... I assume it was a bunch of young people who did that, despite the "wise" old men warning them about the dangers ... without that risk-taking attitudes, humans would not have landed on the moon ... the examples are endless. But, to worry about the risk-taking is also what makes us humans, right?

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