Note from Maddy Butcher: A few years ago, on a beautiful, sunny day, my friend, Raechel and I headed out for an end-of-summer, celebratory ride. We each took two horses and two dogs. Oh, and a donkey. We rode about 8 miles, climbing some 2,000 feet elevation, into the Oquirrh mountains. After lunch, I stepped up on my mule, Jolene. Because of my poor preparation and because sometimes things go sideways, Jolene bolted and I came off. That would have been okay, but my mecate rein, looped through my armitas, didn’t come loose. I was dragged for a short distance. Not sure how far.
Raechel helped me collect the horses and collect myself. After a few hours of slow riding and walking, we got home and I got to a clinic to get some help with the pain and injury. Tough day. Lessons learned.
Because writing is what I do, it helped back then to craft this piece. Hope you enjoy it!
The Psychology of an Exciting Moment
Scientists try to explain the slow motion phenomenon of a wreck, saying it has something to do with the almighty amygdala.
They say that cherry-sized bit of brain rules the day when emotions are in play and messes with the laying down of memories.
But what really happens within those three pounds of gelatinous, grey goop as you pitch, crash, fold, and collapse?
For starters, I do not believe it’s Slo-Mo. If they say neuro-connections are electric, then tumbling times become super-charged. They hum and buzz like transformers in the rain. Recollections stay static long after the storm has passed.
If memories of everyday happenings get laid down like thin pads of butter, congealing together over time, then mishap memories start with butter to which we add oats, sugar, olives, beef jerky, and plum preserves.
It’s a mess that won’t coalesce into a loaf of ordinariness.
If an ordinary afternoon is a flat square of blue velvet, an extra-ordinary one is a blue velvet pillow, with piping, applique, and swatches of extra color.
If a regular ride is a postcard of a forest, then a ride-gone-wrong has birds, bugs, smells, and breezes pushing boldly out of the card stock.
That is why, as I shift my weight off the hurt, I remember:
— The fist-sized rocks of the downhill road coming up to meet me
— The cloud of dust settling on lips, legs, and arms
— Blood seeping through that dust, like the colored water in a Bounty commercial
— Your hand on my knee and your voice saying, “Don’t get up.”
— How quickly the flies descended.
— How sunny the sun.
With these memories, the jostled, jelly organ has its fun.