Martyn Smith
England
Bourne
Lincolnshire
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"We don't see things as they are, but as we are." Anais Nin
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Hi there...

I was reflecting on this recently and it was interesting to realise that most people probably don't ever face a genuine life-or-death situation until the actual point of their death...

In no way whatsoever am I seeking to make it a competition as to who's the toughest/most dangerous individual - instead its just a genuine question to see if my initial reflections/discussions had any merit.

So, when did you face death? What was the context? How did it feel? Did it change you in any way? Do you now view death differently?

Me?

I feel that I have had two or three what I would call genuine death encounters. The most vivid and terrifying of these was when I was about 22 years old and living in North London.

It is a hugely complicated and involved story so I'll try to cut to the chase:

Through a rather strange series of events I came to be arrested by London's Finest. It was during the Tottenham Riots and I guess they were a little bit on edge. Suffice to say that they beat me up for approximately 2 hours and at one point, just before they administered a sedative, they pulled my trousers down while I was handcuffed behind my back, lifted me up to shoulder-height and then dropped me face down...

I really, truly for the very first time in my life thought I was going to die and I wept and begged for them to have mercy. They, of course, merely laughed at me and beat me some more...

I didn't die (well, d'er!) but was unconscious for 36 hours.

In many ways it was a very amazing experience that has stayed with me throughout the rest of my life (I am now 43), not least in that I still have various scars on my body from the beating, most notably where the cuffs cut me to the bone...

Was I afraid? Profoundly. Am I glad it happened? Strangely, yes. Did it change my life? In many ways, some not immediately apparent until many years later. Am I angry with those cops? No, we all do dumb things and when a person puts a uniform on and gets a little bit of authority the dumb-osity increases hugely...

So, what about you guys?

We see death in films, in books, on TV, on the news and even in our beloved board-games but have you ever actually faced it?

I can't wait to read your stories...

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Moshe Callen
Israel
Jerusalem
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ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
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μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος/ οὐλομένην, ἣ μυρί᾽ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε᾽ ἔθηκε,/...
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I have had perhaps more than my share of what I would call "close calls" and I really do not want to try to go into detail about them. In all cases, I was going about my ordinary business and could not have either expected or avoided what happened. All I can say, apart from considering being here a bracha from H`, is that on the level of nature 1. I seem to have good instincts and 2. i did not really think about what was happening until after the fact. Whether dealing with human violence, accidental mishaps or the time I was caught in the midst of a major brushfire, I was just too involved with what I was doing to be afraid [which goes to the OP]. It's not that I'm some brave idiot scoffing at danger. Afterwards, when I did have time to think about it, my knees got weak and I shook all over. While it was happening, I just had to deal with what was happening and COULDN'T waste enough thought on the situation to think or feel anything about it. In all of the more dramatic cases, the ones that might make really good stories, in truth I don't even remember what happened. It was like a switch was tripped in my brain and instinct took over. When I WAS aware of what was happening enoguh to think or feel anything about it, it was over. I suppose that's lesstrue of the brush-fire, but in a sense it is. The whole experience took a couple of days or so but the actual point of danger rather than patrolling the area on the look-out for flare-ups was just really no different.
 
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This Guy
United States
Durham
North Carolina
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I had an experience that was close to being a close call. No profound change, except for being more concerned about expressing anger on the road, myself or others included.

I had another experience where somebody else's life was at stake in high school. I don't have the time to give the full story now, but a friend tried to commit suicide and I ended up stopping him. I was a zombie from the weight of it for 3 or 4 days. It made me extremely unsympathetic to suicide.
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Colleen
United States
Menomonee Falls
Wisconsin
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I've had some moments that could be defined as near death - one was being trampled by about 20 people at a concert. But they were short lived and changed nothing about my views.

If I ever end up in a hospital for an extended period of time, that would probably change my attitude about things.
 
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roger cox
United States
Spartanburg
South Carolina
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Yes. In 1971, I was in junior high and every single day was an exercise in terror and racial strife. I thought those three years would never end.
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Paul DeStefano
United States
Long Island
New York
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It's a Zendrum. www.zendrum.com
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I have been sent to the emergency room with life threatening ailments and injuries so many times that my wife has a draw full of envelopes of my last wishes.

Really.
 
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Rob
United States
30° 12′ 38″ N, 95° 45′ 2″ W
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You can't rob Peter, Paul and Mary to pay yourself.
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Back when I managed a restaurant, I was robbed twice at gunpoint - by the same guy. The second time was worse, because we were in a vacant parking lot at 5 in the morning. I imagined there was no one else for blocks around. Fortunately, we both kept are heads. A few months later, I helped put him away for a long, long time.
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Pragmatically turning whims into principles
United States
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I've had a few close calls. Nothing that really left an impression on me though, since for the most part they were only life-threatening for a few seconds. Adrenaline got me through just fine.
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Neil Carr
United States
Barre
Vermont
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I'm alive today and/or not suffering from crippling ailments purely out of sheer luck with various incidents with cars.

It's taught me to be a very defensive driver, be alert at intersections, avoid speeding, break long before you need to, etc.
 
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Christopher KrackerJack
United States
Portsmouth
Rhode Island
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I have had more close calls than I can recount; comes with the job. The most spectacular involved a burning helicopter in the desert of a foreign country. That one really made me re-evaluate my mortality and the effect my death would have on my family. I partly feel like I am living on borrowed time but also have come to recognize a lot more of the small things in life. I also have a lot of life insurance.

The biggest changes to my behavior have to do with the physical injuries sustained (currently working through my 5th trip to physical therapy) than an emotional or psychological issues.

The biggest psychological change has been one of perspective. I have been in near constant pain for almost 7 years with the reality that it will only improve marginally at best. I have to remind myself that if the constant suffering means one more day with my wife and children, than it is worth it.
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Louise Holden
United Kingdom
York
North Yorkshire
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I decided that if a handful of strapping young men could swim in some rather impressive waves off a beach in Portugal, so could I, and to hell with the red flags (hypomania, gotta love it.) I might be 5 ft 2 and rapidly approaching middle age, but I could swim, couldn't I?

Undertow. I might as well have been in a washing machine. I very very nearly drowned for a long period of time in 4ft of water under the bemused gaze of a hundred beach goers and one rather distressed son.

I've been cagey about water ever since, which is a pity since I've also taken up kayaking.
 
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Tony Ackroyd
United Kingdom
Brighton
E Sussex
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I got lost in the lava tunnels in Hawaii. It really is incredibly easy to do. It is pitch black in those babies, I had a torch but who knew how old those batteries were. Luckily I kept my head and managed to find my way out after a few hours.

I was at 30 meters depth scuba diving and my air suddenly cut out. I managed to make it to my buddy (who was further away than either of us could understand when we thought about it later) and grab their spare regulator.

There are others, but those are the most exotic.
 
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