Can the eyes play tricks on the ears?
Laughing and chatting, we quickly gathered our tack; saddles, bridles, saddle blankets, leg boots and an assortment of other equipment necessary for a days adventure shared with friends and steeds. The bowling alley, the nickname for our long, narrow four horse trailer, was already hooked up to our truck, a one ton dually Chevy Silverado.
Next, all four horses were loaded in and we slowly got the beast rolling down the road. From nose to tail our rig was just one inch shy of the maximum allowed for non-commercial vehicles. The weight of the truck and trailer full of horses, averaging 800 to 1,200 pounds each, totaled about 15,000 pounds. Stopping this monstrosity takes quite a bit of space.
Half way to our destination, rolling along about 45 miles per hour down a slow grade hill, I saw a car sitting on a side road at a stop sign off to the left. I slowed down a little. The car remained without moving. Ok, he saw me.
As we approach the intersection, the black muscle car full of macho guys pulls out in front me. Mind you, it is obvious that no vehicles are behind us. He could most certainly have waited 30 seconds and pulled out behind me. But no, he doesn’t want to be following a horse trailer.
So out he pops! Ok, I stomp on the brakes to slow the beast down. Next thing I know he comes to a complete stop at the very next intersection, waiting for a break in oncoming traffic so he can turn left.
At this point, the nave kid is apparently unaware of how much space it takes to stop a 15,000-pound metal monster. I blare the horn and stomp the trailer brakes to get his attention and to try to prevent a diabolical accident! Still unaware of their impending doom they sit and wait for traffic to clear so they can turn.
The horn screams as smoke billows from the trailer brakes. The smell of burning rubber permeates the cab of our truck. He sits. Finally, moments before impact he gets a clue. Maybe his buddies in the back seat figure out that perhaps they are about to become a hood ornament and yell at him.
As he lunges forward my ears fill with the sounds of breaking glass and grinding, twisting metal. Time seems to be in slow motion. I’m yelling at them to move, as if they can hear me over the screeching tires.
My heart sickens. Adrenalin pumps through my body. Tears begin to well up in my eyes. Emotions of anger and sadness overcome me. The voices and words of my passengers become an indistinguishable blur. I feel the surge of the horses lunging forward with the momentum of the sliding stop.
But wait, they have actually escaped! There is no wreck. My trailer tires may need to be replaced. The horses will be frantic due to their eventful trailer ride. The traveling coffin is now turning at the next intersection as if nothing had happened!
I will never forget the sensation of distinctly hearing the breaking glass and twisting metal. My brain apparently determined that the wreck was imminent and the next step in the process of life was death. None of my passengers heard the noises. Since I was the driver and responsible for the lives of my passengers, their mounts and the other car, all of my senses were heightened.
The website, http://mysite.du.edu/~jcalvert/optics/illusion.htm, stated that the mind will always try to match its visual stimuli with its knowledge of what to expect based upon its own memories. The brain interprets the images it is presented with and sends that message back to the conscious state of the individual.
In reality I watched as the car drove away unscathed, but my brain interpreted the scene as a horrendous accident. Like a computer it drew a conclusion from the input it had received.
The website, http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=19222, explains these situations as auditory hallucinations, not unlike the schizophrenic who hears voices. The noises are self generated by the brain receptors in response to a stimulus and its history of responses. In fact, the auditory hallucination can be viewed as a failed interpretation of its surroundings.
Whatever the scientific discussion, the events of that afternoon are forever archived in the memory banks of my brain.