As an anesthesiologist with more than 40 years of experience, Dr. Brence Sell has earned the respect of his peers and developed an impressive career in his field. Still, even respected medical professionals like Dr. Brence Sell need time to cut loose and enjoy the things that really make life worth living. We sat down with Dr. Brence Sell to discuss some of the things he enjoys in his free time and on vacation. Here’s what we learned.
Dr. Brence Sell on Flight
Learning to become a pilot is not only about becoming acquainted with the mechanics of flight, the feel of a given aircraft, and understanding the instruments. It’s also about physical conditioning. The nerves, muscles, and reflexes involved in the activity of controlling an aircraft all come into play during a flight. To understand this, Dr. Brence Sell explains, it might help to think of learning to ride a bicycle. When you first get on, you wobble. This wobbling is not a failure, but it is the necessary exercise for both the stabilizer muscles and the nervous system to get a handle on the activity. There is something similar that happens when handling the control sticks of an aircraft. Of course, the consequences of failure are much greater, and that is why pilots need many hours of flight time to be considered competent.
Dr. Brence Sell on Skydiving
Dr. Brence Sell comments on skydiving as much more than a simple thrill. Certainly, it is thrilling, but it is so much more than that. It is, at least in the early jumps, a rare opportunity to confront fear. Modern life is so much about avoiding fear and discomfort. But when we face it head-on, willingly, we get in touch with mechanisms in the brain that go unused all too often. For example, when you do a task that you dread before it needs to be done you use a different neural network than if you put it off until the last minute. In the former, you become the hunter- but in the latter case, you become the hunted. It is much more satisfying and character building to face fear directly.
Dr. Brence Sell on Travel
Of course, Dr. Brence Sell explains, travel is very much about recreation and pleasure. But it is an invaluable way to expand one’s perception of what is possible and what a human being can be. History has taught us that simply learning that a thing once thought impossible is actually possible makes it more achievable. Consider the four-minute mile. Before that record was set, no one believed it possible- and no one achieved it. Today, running a four-minute mile is standard for college athletes. But in the same way, just being exposed to people who live in different ways in different places expands one’s idea of what is possible, normal, and even desirable.