Editor’s note: As part of our recent “Satori” issue, Black & Grey ventured into the minds of some young writers to ask them, in the spirit of satori, what the most mind-blowing experience in their lives has been or what are the most mind-blowing thoughts they’ve entertained? These are their responses.
Jason Kish: I’ve realized and accepted an important tenet from Buddhism: You should always be prepared for death at any point in your life. I haven’t always lived this way. Years ago, my friend asked me to see a “vampire movie,” which, sadly, turned out to be Twilight. While driving home, a drunk driver almost collided with our car; we swerved and ended up in a snow bank. I turned to my friend and said, “My life flashed before my eyes, and Twilight was the longest part.”
Stefanie Johndrow: My 3-year-old cousin’s Wrightsville blue eyes haven’t been the same since she realized our great-grandmother was dead, since she learned what dead is. I remember before we walked into the funeral home she told me we were the ocean. She’s an excellent swimmer.
Kathleen Sallada: The first time I visited my hometown after I left for college, I took a walk through a nearby park. This happened to be the park in which I lost my virginity a few years prior. As I approached that exact spot, I noticed that there was something there, and when I got closer, I saw that it was a giant metal bench. There was a plaque on it for an “in memoriam” and I half expected it to say “Kathleen’s virginity.” After reading the old man’s name that was actually on the plaque, I realized that the first time that I got down and dirty really wasn’t very significant in the grand scheme of things, and I suddenly developed a new understanding of how my various actions did or did not impact the world.
Elle Ladebu: One day, I realized my parents were people with lives outside of parenting. Crazy, I know. I was standing in the kitchen, and all of a sudden, I saw my mom as a woman who had travelled the country, met a man, and fell in love. She was so much more than just the person who takes care of me.
Drew Bankert: When I was younger my father took my older brother and me deer hunting. Sometime around early afternoon my brother shot and immobilized a doe, but hadn’t killed it. When my father and I showed up, he was standing over the doe in a bit of a stupor not knowing what to do. My father asked if my brother had a knife on him, which he didn’t. Upon learning this, and in what seemed like all one motion, my father knelt down to the doe’s neck, unsheathed a bowie knife from his side, and explained, “This is why you never forget to bring a knife,” while he opened up a ruby red slit in the soft of the doe’s panting neck. Every morning I put a pocketknife disguised as a key into my jean pocket without giving it a thought, and I’ve since made a habit of trapping bugs I find in my kitchen to release out the window.
Megan Guyer: I went to the beach with my friends for the first time, with-out my parents. We decided to lie down in the sand around midnight. We never went back to the hotel room, because we talked all night just lying under the biggest blanket of stars. We fell asleep around five am, right there in the sand, and I waited until the sun rose. I haven’t talked to these people since, but this moment is still important to me. It was the first time I knew I was on my own.
Ailey Clark: I once sat next to a 7-year-old boy on a carnival ride. Glowing, he turned to me and told me it was the first time he was able to get on by himself, because he had just grown tall enough to meet the height requirement. As we were spinning upside-down through the air, he slipped through his harness and fell to his death. His head hit the ground with such force that the pavement seemed to instantly turn crimson. The smile he’d had while on the ride stayed frozen on his face the whole way down.
Jess Minich: Growing up, I thought my grandfather was a super hero. He was always so strong and hard-working. How could he be anything else? I was nineteen years old when the image I carried of my grandfather was shattered. I remember sitting down with my mother and asking her if what I had heard was true. I could see the hesitancy in her eyes. She didn’t want to answer me. That day, I learned that the man who had raised me to not tell a lie, to always be honest and fair, to be the best possible person I could be, was anything but. For the longest time I was upset, unable to mesh the image I’d held since childhood with the man I got to know as an adult.
Madeline Jobczynski: When I was young, I never knew that eating meat meant I was eating a dead animal. Chicken the food and chicken the animal were two entirely different things. It wasn’t until I was about eight years old, playing hide-and-seek in the backyard, hiding behind an evergreen, that I saw the true magic of the food chain. A mosquito flew right into the web of a giant black spider,who quickly crawled toward its prey, and immediately began to gnaw away at the still struggling insect. It was a grotesque and beautiful sight all tied into one. I made a vow then to always be a carnivore. Meat is murder. It’s survival of the fittest, and I always win.
Tiffany Lodico: Wait? I’m not white? My skin is brown? This whole time I thought me and my friends all looked the same, Ya know, white girls; Until I saw a picture of us all sitting in a row. My whole life I thought I had pale skin and blue eyes. I guess that is what happens when you move to the sticks of Pennsylvania you forget to remember where you really came from.
Jonathan Pivetz: One of the most radical things I have ever experienced occurred on a fall night some 7 or 8 years ago. I was an enthusiastic football player known for my willingness to hit with reckless abandon and general disregard for my own safety. In the second half of this particularly close game, I left my feet to meet another player head-on in mid air. And then I woke up. I remember the lights and all the faces above me whenever I came to. I remember not remembering. I couldn’t tell anyone what had happened, what day it was or what I was doing. I suffered a severe concussion. Over the course of my recovery, I managed to get a copy of the game film. Anxious to see what had happened after that moment, I watched the hit. And then I watched what happened afterwards. Horrified, I couldn’t take my eyes off of the screen as I watched my body go limp before bursting into a physically neurotic fit. My whole body jolted with nervous misfires as I lay there unconscious. I must have watched the same sequence a hundred times over; I couldn’t pull myself away. It was truly an out-of-body experience. When I eventually did stop watching, I never watched the tape again, and I never thought about football the same way.
Matthew Rodgers: Five years ago, I was working as a dishwasher at a restaurant in my hometown – Butler, Pennsylvania. At that point, I had been out of school for five years and had been working multiple jobs simultaneously. One day, I came into work and the dish room was so backed up that I literally could not see any of the stainless steel surface below the gargantuan mound of cheaply produced china and flatware. It was in that exact moment that I decided that I would not settle for that bullshit excuse for an existence. The problem was that it seemed that I had absolutely no chance to break out of that cycle, earn a degree, and get a fulfilling career. I was an average student throughout elementary and high school and college seemed like a pipe- dream. However, I decided to refuse to allow myself to be typecast into the role of a laborer simply because I was born into a lower class family. This continues to drive me forward on a daily basis.
Aaron Snook: In high school, my friends and I enjoyed the casual prank and decided one late summer afternoon that we would make a make-shift human dummy. A pair of old jeans, some too-small shoes, a hand-me-down sweatshirt, an old volleyball, a lot of packing peanuts and a roll of duck tape later, we had created Chester the Dummy. We made a few short comedic films about the dummy to show our friends and post online, and eventually attempted a video where I fatefully played the role of Chester. I was supposed to run down a trail, on top of a nearby mountain, and act as I was going to jump off the side of a cliff. We would then throw Chester off the cliff, filming him falling from above. We figured it would only take some quick video editing and a little bit of luck for it to turn out how we wanted. Unfortunately, we didn’t think about how to get ol’ Chester back. It was getting dark and we wanted to get off the mountain trail while we could still see clearly. So we resolved to retrieve him from his landing location in a few days. Before we could, two days later, one of my friends ran up to me in the school hallway with a newspaper. On the cover was an image of Chester laying at the base of the cliff with a headline “Body Hoax Does Not Amuse Police.” I glanced at the paper, then back to my friend. He simply replied, “Dude, we’re famous.”
Tori Wilsoncroft: Last summer, at a state park close to my home, my friends and I were hiding from the park ranger. We ran out of the thick woods and across the dam. While running, we stopped in our tracks because the Milky Way was lighting up the sky. I’ve never seen it so clear, bright, and beautiful. We turned off our flashlights and in that moment as I was gazing up, everything was perfect. I was surrounded by warm air and the people I love.
Alyssa Eisenmann: When I was a kid, I watched an old woman fall down a JC Penny escalator. Ever since, my views on death have changed. When you’re young, you don’t think of freak accidents, or death at all for that matter. You don’t think about those things until you watch an old woman’s scalp get ripped off. Yeah, that happened. Now, I see the world so differently.
Lori Kusluch: Two summers ago I went to Glacier Park in Montana. I was riding a boat across a lake when my friends and I saw a mother grizzly bear and her two young cubs walking along the side of the lake. A man was walking along the path towards her, not knowing they were there. His wife happened to be sitting behind me on the boat and we were torn between amazement at the grizzly and her babies and terror at the man’s seeming impending demise. A ranger calmly walked down the hill to the lake and the grizzlies dashed away.
Danielle Rishell: One time I watched my sister pull pieces of someone else’s tooth out of her elbow. Three months before she had been playing basketball and accidently smacked her arm into someone’s mouth. We didn’t even know it was there until she picked it out. The shards were so bright white and clean.
Jasmine Kalgen: There’s a quote that has stuck with me since I was a kid. “’Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.” This is Dr. Seuss, of course. But I live my life everyday thinking this because it’s the only way I can make sure people’s comments don’t change me any.
Stephanie Guzman: “’Excuses are tools of incompetence that build master monuments of nothing. Those who master them seldom master anything else.’ Mr. Bair made us rehearse this quote every day before class started. In 7th grade this quote seemed a bit obnoxious, now it speaks volumes to me. We cannot allow our circumstances to limit us so my excuses are deceased.
Krista Shellhammer: Thinking about this topic, I realized that nothing in my life has blown my mind. Is it because I’m a cynic, or is it because I’ve never done anything worth remembering? The question opened my eyes to the fact that I need to branch out before I’m too old to crawl out of bed. Maybe it’s time to go jump off a bridge (with a bungee cord).
Samantha Barnhart: When I went to Costa Rica last summer, I zip-lined over the rainforest and got to see it from that perspective. It looked blurry because I was going so fast, but everything was green, gray, and misty. It was a cold day, but I didn’t even notice.
Anees Moore: The craziest thing I’ve ever experienced was seeing a man get hit by a train in broad daylight during rush hour. He got out of his car as the train got closer and actually walked down the tracks towards the train. Despite all of the horns honking and people screaming and begging for him to get off the tracks, he still decided to take his own life. People got out of their cars and began crying and praying. I was very much in shock but when I heard the police sirens and ambulances I snapped out of it. I still remember seeing him get sucked underneath the wheels of the train and watching his life end in just seconds. I learned that day how much people value human life. Watching everyone beg this man that they didn’t even know to get off the tracks, and seeing them grieve for his life was truly life-changing.
Sequoia Van Camp: The most mind-blowing thing I’ve ever seen was probably the crowd at a regional chorus festival I was a part of in fifth grade. In part due to my age, I can just remember the massive burst of energy I got. Of course, I also passed out on stage, so that makes it stick out in my mind. It was so incredibly hot on that stage.
Gabrielle Reed: The moment I remember the most about my life is the first time I was spiked at a cross-country meet. It didn’t hurt until someone told me I was bleeding. Then, I felt every drop of salty sweat hitting the open wound and dropped to the ground. It was like I had been tasered.
Brennan Proud: A friend of mine told me something once that I thought was really interesting. He was talking about death and he said that the worst part about dying was losing all of a person’s knowledge, their stories, and opinions about the world. In the flash of a moment it would be all be gone. And this is something that has happened over and over as long as people have been around.