Over the years one question seems to present itself and has never been addressed by yours truly to its fullest. I have been asked many times about my viewpoint on BASE as well as other extreme sports and the danger that proceeds them.
Each loss of a friend to the sport forces us…forces me to look at what we do and why we do it over and over again. But for each person lost several new friends in the sport are made. Not in attempt to replace the light that is now extinguished because in my opinion there is no replacement for the amazing people we have lost! They will always be remembered, but it is just the growth of the sport. The new and growing popularity of what we do.
So why do we do it and do we feel a sense of selfishness? Do people, in particular our close friends and family, think we are being selfish? Are we putting ourselves at risk for a thrill? This is no easy question to answer. If I could take my feelings on this subject and allow you to feel them as your own you would understand. It is not something that can be easily explained but can easily feel. Because we don’t have the technology to do so I will do my best to lay it out for you.
Are we putting our friends and family in a position to deal with heartbreak? The simple answer is yes. We put our friends and family in a position to deal with heartbreak the moment we are conceived and all throughout life! We are at no point “safe” from external factors. It is just our job to minimize the risk associated with life…or is it? When we get in the car every morning do we ask ourselves “am I being selfish right now putting my self at risk.” No because this activity is socially acceptable and viewed as a normal risk of life. Our risk as jumpers is just as calculated as driving if not more and just as important in our lives as learning to drive.
BASE is an inherently dangerous sport and although we can do things to bring the risk down there will always be a certain percentage of danger that we can’t avoid. Instead it is our job to make sure we are prepared enough to deal with this risk when it arises for the most favorable outcome. You see this question is a catch 22. We act in a way which fills our soul and makes us feel as if we are truly living our lives and at the same time we do so through participating in a sport in which we risk our lives.
BASE jumpers are a different breed in my opinion. As a collective our viewpoint are much the same but as individuals we all lead very different lives. Doctors, Lawyers, Laborers, teachers, scientists, nannies, health workers, and the jobless all participate in the sport. And we all have different reasons. We all assess the risk and have come to accept it and explain it to those we love.
In our sport it is more devastating and seemingly unfair when a friend is lost in a “normal” way. To an illness or accident. We can go at any time and we don’t know when that time is, so I am not going to waste a minute sitting around in fear of my passion, in fear of my drive or my desire, I am going to go out and grab life by the horns and ride it all the way into the ground.
Some people look at us in a way that we are reckless, selfish and much like a junkie looking for that next fix. This is partly because of the danger of the sport and an equal part the social viewpoint. Its not widely accepted just yet and although the popularity is growing especially with the youth it is still a very controversial subject. To me I jump for the freedom, for the peace and every jumps fills my soul and my life even more than the last. The rush is only a part of the experience. But to someone just walking down the street this concept is very hard to convey. They can’t wrap their mind around it.
As far as our loved ones. Are we doing what we love at the expense of others and their potential heartbreak or do we do what makes us alive and live to our potential despite the fear of others?
Do others keep us from doing what we truly want to do because they are afraid it will lead to our demise? Isn’t that just as selfish as us doing what we want to feel alive?
We all have responsibilities and those go up when we have a family that depends on us. I know many jumpers who left families with small children and it is sad.
I have always had a different viewpoint on death and grieving. Some people say I don’t care, some accuse me of being heartless and others see exactly what I see. I enjoy the times with my friends and family, I live my life to the fullest at each possible moment or at least I strive to. And when someone passes, it is sad yes but, I am able to see what they did and how they loved it. I grieve and miss them but I do not wish it to be another way, I do not judge them because of what or who they left behind but instead I remember the good times. Excessive grieving and regret is selfish in my opionion. We may miss the people we have lost and love them but if they were still around we have to realize that they would still be doing the exact same thing! They wouldn’t be back and be exactly what we wanted them to be. We need to love and to embrace them while they are still with us for exactly who they are and what they do. No one, that I know at least, jumps purely for the potential fatal outcome! It is something I have a firm grasp on but I do not dwell on it. It is our job to weigh the risk vs. benefit on a jump-by-jump basis and to make our intent known so there is no sense of regret or anger our loved ones have when our time comes.
People fear what they do not understand so it is our job as jumpers to help those we love understand why we do what we do. We don’t risk our lives because we don’t love our family, our spouse or kids. We BASE jump to help us to be better husbands or wives and better parents to our kids Because when we are happy and when we do what we love it reflects in all areas of life. We live our passion.
So…is our risk “unnecessary”? To the normal person yes it is, to us no way. It is what makes us feel alive; it is what moves us, inspires us and makes us the people we are today. We don’t BASE jump because we have a death wish, we BASE jumping because we have a LIFE dream! Speaking mostly for myself but I know many other jumpers who share my viewpoint.