This week I did my 500th BASE jump. In one sense it didn’t seem like anything special because jumping is my life now and it was just another day but in another sense I had to pinch myself to think about how far I’ve come and that it’s actually real.
While out doing this particular jump I was with Jake and while getting onto the ladder of this particular object it all just seemed normal. I had just woken up an hour or so earlier and packed my rig right before heading out. Just a year ago I would have been lying awake scared to death about what I was about to do, and 2 years ago I wouldn’t have even been able to imagine doing what I was about to do.
I’ve gone through so many cycles of evolution over the past couple of years within this world that it’s impossible to articulate, especially to the people in my life that don’t jump.
My friends and family don’t understand, and unfortunately, the more time that passes, and the more experience I gain, the gap in mindsets between us seems to be getting further apart vs closer.
A few months back I was chatting with my buddy Chris, telling him that I was finding it harder and harder to relate to people who didn’t jump and he reminded me of a somewhat common phrase within skydiving and BASE – “To those that jump, no explaination is necessary, and to those that don’t, no explaination is possible.”
I meditate, and contemplate death a lot. I have a folder which seems to keep growing of audio recordings, videos, letters, and a few other things to be given to people if I die jumping, or if I just happen to die unexpectidly for whatever reason. Having known several people who have died jumping I feel that this is extremely important and encourage all my fellow jumpers to do something similar but for whatever reason most don’t. It’s extremely easy to sit down for 10mins and write a letter to those you care about, or pull out your phone (as if it’s not out already) and record a short video. It’s a classic example of ‘easy to do, easy not to do.’
While I was in Thailand with Brian – a non jumper, childhood friend of mine, I was constantly trying to explain things to him and how I have fully accpeted death as a potiential consequence each and every time I jump. As with most people who don’t jump he just couldn’t seem to get his head around the idea. One night I was telling him about how myself and Jacob were making jokes about planning our own funerals and how we had planned to have people written into our wills telling them that they would get some money if they did some funny task at our memorial service.
During our conversation Brian said something to the effect of ‘Ok, I can see that doing what you do, you have to comtemplate what would happen if you did die, but you seem to spend a disproportioate amount of time thinking about it.’ Maybe I was spending too much time trying to explain it because he couldn’t understand but it got me thinking a lot – Do I? , Don’t I? , What is enough? What is too much? Death is the one thing in life that we are all guaranteed to experience regardless of what activities we choose to participate in, but no one likes talking about it.
What I’ve realized is that as the numbers, and years tick by, that my mindset towards it all continues to grow, and for those in my life who do not jump, unfortunately, their mindsets do not, regardless of how much I try and explain things. No explaination is possible.
The majority of people in the world will never even do one Tandem Skydive, a small percentage of the people who do will continue on to become Skydivers, a small percentage of those people will someday become BASE jumpers, and a small percentage of those people will pursue BASE as a life path. I understand that I am in an extremely small percentage.
Thinking along those lines really helps me put things in perspective. For someone who is living the life that I do, to try and communicate effectively with someone who doesn’t, is like speaking a different language. It’s impossible to relate to each others mindsets in relation to the whole thing. Well, I feel like I can relate because I was once on the other side, but that seems like a lifetime ago at this point.
You think I think about death too much? Imagine jumping off something and seeing the exact point on the ground where you are going to impact and die unless you do what you need to it. Visualize that for a second. Now – do that 500 times and tell me you don’t think about death a lot. If you are a jumper reading this and you don’t – then I think there is soemthing wrong with you hahaha.
And thats even another level – There are people that I look at within my world as being crazy, but from the outside world we are all covered by the same umbrella. It doesn’t matter if I do a routine jump off a 500′ Bridge and land in the water, or do a Double Gainer off a 300′ Cliff and land perfectly in between a sea of boulders. From virgin eyes it will get the same reaction of ‘That’s Crazy’.
As much as I would love my non jumper friends and family to understand, I know it’s unrealisitc, but I will continue to try regardless. Isn’t the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome? hahaha. All I can do is express myself and hope.
My journey to date has been an amazing one. BASE is not about the numbers, and each jump I have the privilege of doing is something I will never lose gratitude for. Regardless of the fact that I get to do something almost daily that most of the world will never experence the numbers do represent gorwth for me. As with everything in life the road you are on does not change much day to day but as long as you continue to move forward you will look back occosionally and be amazed with how far you have come.
The key to that is continue to move forward.
I had initailly intended of posting this soely as a celebration of my 500th jump and look what it’s turned into!! I guess it would have been too easy to just say ‘500, fuck yeah’ and continue on.
Side note – My 500th was also Jake’s 600th and a couple of months ago we got to share 400 and 500 respectively off the same object which was pretty cool.
Anyways – this is now up and I hope to look back on this in years to come after even more learning, progression, and associated growth.