I’ve wondered what would have happened if someone had appeared in front of Michael that morning. “I’m from the future,” the someone would say, “and I’m here to tell you that you’re facing massive risk this morning, you shouldn’t go skiing, you should lay off for the day. I don’t have any proof of this, but trust me.” I know a fair number of people who could be dissuaded from just about anything were someone to appear in front of them with a story like that. Even if they didn’t actually believe the whole time-travel thing, their jimmies would be sufficiently rustled by bringing up an exact accounting of their actual risk on a given day in a given activity. Michael Schumacher was not one of them, I’d suspect.
I have no way of knowing for sure, but I suspect I can be counted among the dissuadable: more than once I’ve seen something that I couldn’t possibly have seen before — and yet somehow I had, which tells me that bomb bursts seemingly from the future carry more credibility with me than perhaps they should.
Schumacher, most likely, would have none of that:
He’d likely have responded with something like: I know the risk, I’m aware of it, used to it, I’ve taken all precautions, kindly step out of the way, I have some skiing to do. The response of a competitor, a champion. Make no mistake. He was never just going to “switch off” that discipline, that courage, that determination, any more than the man on the street can “switch off” laziness, addiction, envy, underachievement. He was always going to be someone to push the boundaries a little bit. He may never return, but who among us will accomplish what he’s done, given twice the lifetime or more?
I tend to minimize my own accomplishments, to the extent that I admit to having accomplishments at all; I have always suspected myself of being an underachiever the easy way, by allowing people to overestimate my capacity for — adequacy? (I tried “greatness” in that spot, but it looked ridiculous.) Just yesterday, someone I need to know better suggested I might have brass balls sufficiently massive to cause an audible clink when I walk; I didn’t demur, exactly, but it occurred to me that with regard to the incident in question, I didn’t do anything a kid a quarter my age couldn’t do, though odds are the kid wouldn’t dare.
And I believe Schumacher will come out of this. I’d feel better, though, if I’d seen it in a dream.