A little follow-up to yesterday’s post… and the words “abject despair” that I used.
In trying to remember a time I felt something like that, what comes to mind is the first time I ever participated in Paintball. If you’re not familiar with paintball, it’s where your shoot other people will fancy weapons that fire out gumball-sized balls of paint.. so that when you hit your target, there’s no doubt you “killed” them.
It was a large outdoor course… trees, flats, hills. Both teams start at either end, perhaps 200 yards apart, in their own little fort… which houses a flag. The idea is to attack the opponent team’s fort (10 people per team), take their flag, and bring it back to your own fort.
We strategized for a few minutes, before the horn sounded to start the game, and came up with a pretty good plan… some of us would launch a blatant attack up the middle, while a couple of other stealthier and faster teammates would try to sneak around the sides and attack from behind. A few others, known to have good aim, would guard our fort and flag.
I was chosen to be one of the “up the middle” attackers… tasked with basically getting as close to the enemy fort as possible, surviving as long as I could, hopefully killing some of them, and distracting them away from the periphery.
The horn sounded, and I began sneaking my way toward the enemy. Hiding behind obstacles where I could (rocks, trees, brush), I impressed myself with how close I’d managed to get.
But just as I was about to continue my journey from behind the rock I was presently hiding behind, a paintball went whizzing by me. Shit… I’d been spotted. And for several minutes, there I was, pinned behind the rock. As soon as any part of me moved, paintballs would fly all around me.
Even though it’s a game… even though you’re not going to really die… the despair of being trapped like that really started getting to me. I’m sure my adrenalin, heartbeat and blood pressure were all off the charts.
At some point, my brain just blew a gasket. Without really understanding what I was doing, I stood up, screaming, and charged up the hill toward their fort.
Had this been a Hollywood war movie, this would’ve all been shown in slow motion… possibly black and white… powerful classical music underscoring the pyrotechnics and explosions all around me… and on me, my chest exploding from the many machine-gun bullets ripping into me, my face a grimace of despair and pain.
In reality, I was cut down by about 10 paintballs within 3 seconds… but, might I add, it was just the distraction one of our guys needed. Right after I was "killed", I saw our guy sprinting down the side, headed back to our home fort – enemy flag in hand. Too bad that in real life I would’ve been dead and not witnessed the contribution I’d made to our victory.
Anyway, the point of all that… I learned something about the human animal that day; we all have our instinct to survive, and we all have our breaking point. That was my moment of abject despair, and I hope I never feel it again. I hope none of you do… and as bad as things might get, like I said yesterday, there’s always somewhere to turn; somewhere nearby, your teammate is in the same predicament.