Monday, July 14, 2014

Superman Effect

It seems that in every town, in every county in every state, some time around this time of year, a few kids - out "just being kids" - die in some seemingly pointless, probably at least partly self-induced tragedy.
It happened to me just a month out of high school.  One of my friends, seemingly out of nowhere killed himself and another was killed by the reckless driving of her boyfriend.

Was she experiencing a thrill as they came down that hill and slammed into that retention wall?  We never found out.  

This week, it was my town's turn.  My freshman daughter knew the kids, even hung out with them.  When you see the site of the tragedy, a seasoned driver knows that something isn't quite right.  It seems impossible to accidentally hit  that tree, so far from the road.

But, alas, another passage of summer. For some, a devastatingly permanent passage.  The pain is palpable.  And yet, the teenage years seem to inevitably be a time of life for most people when we, groping for the boundaries of our own independence, are able to raise the stakes without yet understanding the contra side of the trade.

This phenomenon of being adult-sized in body but still kid-sized in mind and experience seems to be addressed mostly - in of all places - driving schools.  There, they call it the "Superman Effect". 

The "Superman Effect's" can't-happen-to-me definition make it painfully and unfortunately circular and cuts it off from external intervention.  The only person who can shut down the "Superman Effect" is the individual.  I can't shut down yours, you can't shut down mine. 

Meanwhile, another summer, in another town, in another county, in every state passes by.  I guess the freedom we like to talk about here really does have its price. It is truly tragic that no matter the age, that price is so often paid by people who don't understand the trade they're in.

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