This is just about edges. Maybe someday I'll be ready to write about lines.
There is only so much your body can do. But you can never tell, I can never tell, at least, when the edge is psychological and when it is truly the physical edge. Take getting strangled unconscious. The progression, for me, is a rushing noise in my ears. Then my vision starts to tunnel, collapsing from the side, sometimes with a red rim, sometimes black. Not sure why. Then I hear a single high-pitched note. Then I pass out.
I'm pretty sure that's a real, physical threshold... but I've heard of people going unconscious in as little as three seconds. And that may not be physically possible. I read once that during the French revolutions one of the scientists timed how long the head tried to talk after a decapitation and got something like 5-10 seconds. I can't believe any strangle would be more efficient than a beheading. And I once saw a guy I barely tapped swear he was KO'd... but he always came up with some excuse to get out of any physical training. I think it was ego defense, not unconsciousness.
We used to do a drill called the "Chinese Chair." The first time I did it only two of us finished a whole minute and neither of us could walk afterwards. Our coach said of the people that collapsed that if they could walk afterwards, their minds gave out, not their legs.
So, edges. That edge when you've been concussed and you know you need to finish things now before you pass out. I assume it's like the edge where you are bleeding out, but I've never lost that much blood.
Total muscle failure in your fingers, but you are 80 feet or more up a cliff and can't go down. You must finish. And that was conditioned by, of all things, milking cows. You don't stop with muscle failure. You stop only when the cow is done or she will develop mastitis.
The edge where you haven't slept in 30 hours and you get the page. No way out. Another eight hours of focused... it's not alertness. Part of your brain is dead. But it is a focused determination. Zombie stuff.
Joe, with blisters popped, exhausted, thirty miles into a mountain hike. Locked on to the edge, one foot forward, other foot forward. The whole world just focused pain and repetition.
Belaying as hypothermia sets in. So cold the shivers can only be called convulsions. Whole body spasms but the grip has to be tight.
Is pain a mental edge or a physical edge? Taser felt pretty absolute... But people have learned to function. Not well or doing anything complex, maybe. And I've seen two people with the same physical injury, and one was completely incapacitated and the other just got to work.
You find edges, they change. And they change when you avoid them too.
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2 hours ago