I realize that everyday we probably come closer to dying just by driving or riding a bike than we do at any other time in our lives. What I'm talking about is a moment where you had the thought "I'm about to die" or when you did something and a few minutes later realize how close to death you were. I have two:
The most recent one isn't that out of the ordinary. My dad and I hike every once in a while, just on a trail or to a camping spot. A week ago we were walking down a railroad on a lake near our house. Very Stand By Me, lol. Anyway, we were walking, and past a certain point you stop paying attention to what you're walking on. Then, about two steps in front of me I see a rattlesnake. I should preface, my family is pretty outdoorsy and I've only seen one other rattlesnake in my entire life, and not very close. Actually at the start of the trip my dad said "careful, there are rattlesnakes" and my sardonic reply was "yeah, but not many" Back to the story, I was about two steps away from this rattlesnake when I noticed it. It was at least four feet long, and it had just eaten so it was about as wide as the thickest part of your arm. Just for reference stick out your index, middle, and ring fingers. That's the size of this guys head. I have no idea what I did between seeing this snake and being twenty feet away from it, but my dad described it latter. He said "you were about to put your right foot down, but then you picked it back up about to your shoulder. Then you took two steps backwards with one foot, somehow." And that was the clearest time in my head where I thought "I'm about to die," though now I don't think I was in any danger. I don't think the rattlesnake felt threatened, and having just eaten he probably wasn't feeling very active. Also, fucker never rattled!
The other time I came close to death I didn't actually realize how much danger I was in until I was out of it. My dad and I were whitewater kayaking on a pretty rough stretch of river in the NC mountains, the French Broad. Although we had kayaked flat water for years this was our first time in whitewater, and we truly should not have been there. For anyone who's never been in whitewater, imagine a river about 100 yards wide. 3000 cubic feet of water pass by you every second, or about 1/30th of Niagara Falls. And interspersed throughout the river are rocks, hundreds and thousands of rocks. Imagine a maze with a river running through it and you have whitewater. The maze has one or two paths through it that are the width of your kayak, if you take the wrong path you're swimming. The maze also tends to take 90 degree turns randomly. Now imagine trying to steer through the maze at a speed a little faster than you can ride a bike. As said, my dad and I had pretty much no idea what we were doing, and we made quite a few mistakes. Our biggest one was following each other too closely. Our logic was that we should be close incase one of us needed help. What we didn't count on was getting in each others way. We were navigating the whitewater maze, with my dad in front, when suddenly the path we were following took a right turn. My dad ground to a halt in the turn, blocking it. And suddenly I was being pulled in-between two rocks each about the size of a car, backwards. A narrow stream ran between the rocks, but the rocks were so close to gather that the stream had no head room, it was pretty much a drainage pipe, and I was being sucked into it backwards. I couldn't have paddled against the current if my life depended on it, so I had two choices: climb out of the kayak onto one of the car rocks and be trapped in the middle of a river, or bend down so that I could fit through the drainage pipe sized hole. I bent forward and went through, for a brief few seconds passing through a very dark, small cave with no idea of where it would go. A few seconds later I came out of the cave into an eight foot waterfall. I land backwards, at a about 15 mph with no idea of how I'd gotten there. And it occurred to me: that cave might have gone nowhere. It might have lead to an underground river that could have sucked me in, or a 50 foot drop onto rocks. I'm a very lucky person.
The lesson learned? Apparently, don't hang out with your dad. He can get you into some shit.