How not to be boared in Berlin

I had to cut my usual jogging route short today. Here’s the reason:

I was shouting “Wildschwein!” not to inform the boar what the correct German word for its species is, but to warn another jogger who was approaching from behind.

When the boar started charging me, my inborn instincts took over. Instincts encoded into my genes and epigenetic stuff around my genes. Instincts honed by millions of years of evolution of our species as hunter-gatherers. I tuned into the collective field of all the humans who ever faced wild animals and let the field guide me to do the right thing. What thing was that, you ask? Let me tell you: I tapped on the red button on my iPhone screen to stop recording and save battery while I run away. If there is ever an apocalypse and we have to rely on our instincts to survive we are screwed.

Oh my ancestors, who you braved a life in cruel nature and survived long enough to procreate and continue the chain of generations so that eventually I can roam the Earth, today I might have made you go facepalm, but worry not, the day will come when I will do you proud, and all your suffering will have been worth it. But, today is not that day. And, tomorrow will probably not be that day either. Patience.

You might wonder what happened after I turned off recording. Well, the boar approached me, stopped at a respectful distance, stood up on its hind legs and asked politely: “Excuse me good sir, could you be so kind and help me out? I seem to have lost my directions; I believe I need to go West but this wire fence over yonder is blocking my way and causing me no small level of distress. I would like to rejoin my friends, the Band of Big Bad Boars. Where would I have to turn to?” That’s when I saw a tattoo on its biceps: “B4“.

Well this didn’t really happen. It might have happened had I kept standing there, but I ran behind a tree. The boar followed. I always wondered whether I would turn out to have a mutant superpower that only reveals itself when I am in grave danger. Well, being chased by a crazed boar qualifies as grave danger in my book. If there is a superpower that revealed itself, it is this: “When being charged by a crazed boar at time t0, I can run behind a tree and keep circling it such that for any time t with t > t0, the statement »At time t, the tree is between me and the boar« is true.”

The boar, awed by my superpower, gave up chasing me after a few circlings of the tree and ran away. I ran away as well, home. Now I am sitting in the Staatsbibliothek at my iPad and wish to ponder and write about my feelings at that time. More precisely, about the points in time t with t0 < t < tBoarGivesUp.

I am worried. I am worried now because I was not actually worried when running around the tree. This was a real-life dangerous situation and it somehow felt like I wasn’t really there. I felt more like a viewer than an actor. I didn’t really realize I was in danger, in fact it didn’t feel that much different from watching something like that on YouTube. Sure, the boar was young and its tusks were not visible, but it could still hurt me plenty. I am not sure what to make of this feeling. I have been reading a lot about meditation and mindfulness lately, and sat down a few times to try out meditation, but those few times of trying to meditate or the reading about the topic could hardly explain the detachment. Or maybe because I have been spending a lot of time in virtual reality (developing experiments), my visual perception has been decoupled a bit from actually feeling presence in reality. It might well be that, for me, using VR a lot in its early stages is long-term detrimental to the experience of both virtual worlds and the real world. Maybe the solution for me is to wait until VR adds somethings significant, beyond an increase in visual and auditory fidelity, like real haptics. Or, perhaps this feeling of detachment when bad things happen and happen really fast is normal, and I just have lived too sheltered a life to experience enough of them to realize that.

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