Sunday, 1 September 2013

"I knew it..."

How many times have you heard this? How many times have you happened to say this, to someone else (probably in the wake of them screwing something up) or to yourself? I begin to observe there is a distinct sense of anticipation built in a human mind – quite often when something is about to go wrong, despite no portent, nor any material evidence signalling it, a man is able to predict it…

Yesterday I drove up ul. Rzymowskiego towards intersection with Al. Wilanowska where it extends into ul. Wołoska. The road was virtually empty. I moved on the right lane and in the wing mirror saw the middle lane was empty. I thought this was safe situation in case something bad happened. For no apparent reason I grabbed the steering wheel with both hands (I have a condemnable habit of keeping only my felt hand on it, while the right is on the gear lever or rests) and as I was passing al. Wilanowska by, an idiot in silver Auris cut in from al. Wilanowska a few metres in front of me. I swerved abruptly in split second, bracing myself for an impact that at such speed could make me lose control over the vehicle, but eventually it ended up with only a close call. Had it not been for the gut feeling I’d had some two or three seconds before, I could have not avoided a serious accident – it wouldn’t have ended up on written-off cars, as I drove some 60 kmph, the Auris driver some 20 – 30 kmph. I was scared out of my wits, but next two or three seconds after the fact, when the reckless motorist was already behind me.

I decided to examine the whole situation:
I have a habit of controlling situation on the road in rear-view and wing mirrors, so I would have known of the free lane to the left anyway.
I usually have a laid-back position behind the wheel, unless I drive fast – efficacy of one-hand steering is far inferior to what can be achieved when the steering wheel is kept with both hands in “ten to two” position – it would have taken precious milliseconds to move the hand and the swerve manoeuvre would in its first stage have been made with just one hand…
Try to estimate the probability that an idiot, having red light, but green arrow, turns right, as if they had green light…

Most of you would say anticipation in this example can be put down to experience in driving. There’s a principle of limited trust to other road users. Each motorist should pre-empt other motorists’ actions and be prepared for the worst-case scenario. Thousands of miles covered influence your imagination and sensitise you to a specific kind of drivers, not those aggressive, speeding and self-confident, but those who infrequently sit behind the wheel, hold on to it fearfully and despite driving slowly, they dither, behave inconsiderately and unpredictably.

This was not the first time I averted an accident thanks to my intuition, but this happened in other realms of life. Many times my intuition has failed me. Many times I thought I should refrain from pursuing a specific plan, as the aftermaths would be dire. Each time, with some dread, I ignored those gut feelings, and never regretted it, as the bad fate has not left its mark on me.

A few nights ago I had a dream. Its content was more than absurd, but such dreams are not a rare occurrence with me. I was invited (why?) for opening of one of the main streets in Piaseczno, which recently underwent a refurbishment. For some reasons the roadside pavements were meant to adorned with lit grave candles and I was asked to light them. While doing my job, I accidentally dropped one of matchsticks into my shoe. I thought nothing happened, but before long my left shoe and sock began to smoulder. I tried to cover it with my jacket to cut off oxygen and thus put out fire, but it didn’t help. Actually there was no fire – there were just red sparks on my shoe and socks which on account of high temperature got stuck to my foot and it burnt mercilessly. I began to nervously hop about and beg people for a bucket of water. Finally somebody brought a bowl of water. I put my foot there and felt immediate relief. Then I tried to take off my footwear and sock. They came off together with the outer layer of my skin… Then I woke up, scared and soaking with sweat…

Then I checked the possible meaning of the dream (once this proved a worthwhile guidance). This time interpretations were disparate, but none upbeat. They said seeing a man aflame means loss of a dear person, but it precisely referred to seeing someone else in fire. Burning oneself means being close to take a decision that will destroy me. And I even recognised what it would be in my case. As a down-to-earth person, should I be guided by absurdly improbable dreams? Is the fate issuing a warning through the subconscious?

Or is it simply about my worn-out theory stating that misfortunate events strike out of the blue when me don’t expect them, and when we expect them, we take steps to prevents them. So assuming I’m aware of potential consequences of my decision, can I manage the course of events to avoid the destruction?

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