Jumping to Conclusions — Chapter 1

The experiment with the razor was not a unique event in my life, and for that matter may be more representative of how I have conducted my life than I care to freely admit.

I’ve moved now. I am now sitting on my back deck, which overlooks a public green space. In July, which it is now, it is completely filled in with sumac, trees, grasses, hedges, wildflowers and bushes. There is a man made pond out behind my house that has become populated with bullfrogs, herons, turtles, waterfowl and children. A public trail wraps around the far side of the pond. It is connected to all of the trail systems in our city and I’ve heard it is also connected to the Bruce trail that spans the province of Ontario. In other words, there are often bikers, strollers, joggers and dog walkers on this path. It has a pleasant community feel to it. There is no one on the path right now.

The A-frame house that I lived in did not have a basement. I do not believe it even had a root cellar that many of the older homes had, for storage of root vegetables and preserves. The ceilings were quite high on the first floor; possibly 10 or 12 feet and the upstairs ceilings reflected the shape of the house with the ceiling very high in the middle of the house and tapering down to about three feet at the very edge of the walls.

A full one half of the upstairs was my bedroom. There was a small landing at the top of the stairs and on the other side of that landing was my older sister, Vicki’s, room. We both had blue eyes and blond hair. I looked up to her. She got to go to school first, was allowed to walk to the variety store without our parents and she seemed so worldly to me. The upstairs was our space. The large open floors were perfect for dumping out all kinds of toys and games. It was possible to sprawl out on the floor with crayons and Barbie’s and just amuse yourself.

From my bedroom window I could see the side yard and a couple of the larger branches from the maple tree. My room was huge. The fact that the side walls were only three feet high did not detract from the fact that it was still space. Toys and personal items could go into that space and my bed was against the wall. I could sit up in my bed as long as I was far enough away from the wall.

One night, my parents were having a party. It is possible that I was awake because of the noise coming from downstairs. I remember knowing that they had ordered a pizza and that they had not offered me any. I found that pretty upsetting, but not as upsetting as the possibility that I was about to die. The lights were all out upstairs and the only light in the room was from the moon outside. The window to my room was open and there was a screen in place to keep out the insects. I couldn’t be sure that it could keep out an insect this large. I was lying in my bed with my head closest to the wall on the other side of the room from the window. The window was centred in the room so it was a little to the left of the bed on the far wall. When I looked up I could see straight out it.


Through a trick of the light of the moon, a large June bug was casting a huge bug shaped shadow on the floor not too far from my bed. As the bug crawled up the window it appeared to not only be growing but to be approaching my bed. I was petrified. I called out for my father to come up and rescue me and I was told to go to sleep. I was crying and inconsolable. I know that I cried for a very long time and then quite possibly just finally fell asleep. I couldn’t understand why no one came to see what was wrong and why no one was available to help me, but I was alone. I was alone and scared and there was nothing that I could do about it. As it turns out the shadow did not attack and kill me, but something died. There was no one that was going to protect me, regardless of how desperately I asked for their help.

The particular question that had been nagging at me recently was one of gravity. I knew that if you dropped a ball down the stairway that it would continue to go down until it hit the bottom. What I was trying to picture in my mind was whether or not I could jump out far enough that I would make it all the way to the bottom of the stairway. I replayed this scenario in my mind repeatedly and I simply did not have enough data. It was possible, I figured, to get the forward distance. All that was left to do was to try it.

I cleared the first couple of stairs and actually caught enough air to feel like I was going to make it. At the sound of me hitting and then rolling down the remaining dozen or so stairs, someone came running to see if I was alright. I have no memory of who this woman was. She may have been someone who was there to take care of me, but I don’t think that it was my mother. Anyhow, I only remember thinking through this experiment and recognizing that I had underestimated how far I needed to go.

Keep Reading: The Swing of Things

Read the entire book, now available
Read the entire book, now available

Daniel Pink explains why right brained people are more valuable now than ever.


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