Chris Cawley, Alta Ski Patrolman and frequent backcountry observer, recently shared a great link from NPR about “free will” with decision making…that, according to author Sam Harris, “our brains decide a course of action before we know about it”. I thinking about it, it may be that this is how we survived as a species – quick instincts and reactions – to avoid being stamped out by the mastodon or becoming a sabre tooth’ tiger’s snack… It may be a way to attribute why we dive into avalanche terrain – knowingly – (ah, that gets to the heart of it, doesn’t it) despite the facts on the ground. “I just couldn’t help myself.”… “I didn’t think, I just dived right in.”
It’s why I appreciate my boss at Jenny Lake Rescue in the Tetons…He always says, “OK, what would the smart guy do right now?” (And he’s the smartest guy in the room). But perhaps what this does is get folks to pause….just for that fleeting moment…to combine intention with instinct. So next time….pause, just for that fleeting moment….