Thursday, October 23, 2014

Wife of a BASE jumper.

Life is like that.  You want things to be cut and dry, black and white, clear decisions.  But like so many other things in life, BASE jumping is full of grey.

Every time I hear of another BASE jumpers death I am filled with so many emotions.  Some are socially acceptable to admit while others probably aren't.

Of course my first reaction will always be that of tradegity.  And this most recent story is clearly no exception.  So so sad.  28 years old.  Beautiful girl.  Married two weeks ago.  Her husband watched her fall to her death.  Nothing he could do.  So so so so so ridiculously sad.

Now my next reaction, I probably shouldn't admit.  Why are all these BASE jumpers sad?  They all know exactly what they are getting into.  She knew exactly what she was getting into.  It's like being a smoker all your life and then being sad when you get lung cancer.  (PLEASE don't stop reading here.  I promise I'm not a jerk). I mean I feel like her family can be sad, her non BASE jumping friends can be sad.  But her friends that willingly risk their life for a thrill any chance they get, my second gut reaction is, "How dare you be sad." When you are willing to risk the emotions of your family and friends every time you jump.... How dare you be sad.

But that is the thing. I don't get it. I don't understand how the high of free falling can take over someone's life. I don't understand the drive that pushes jumpers to new extremes. So I understand that the general public doesn't either.  BASE jumpers actually try and do whatever is possible to not get on the news.  There is an unspoken rule among jumpers to do what's necessary if something happens to not let word get out.  I've even heard of jumpers collecting the remains of their friend's body after he died and driving it to the sheriffs station to be pronounced dead rather than calling law enforcement so it wouldn't be on the news.  Why?  Because the bottom line is the general public doesn't get it.  I know I don't get it.  I know I'll never get it. 

But there is something that I am starting to understand.  I married a BASE jumper.  Now before you start throwing out judgments about my decision making ability.... let me explain.  I agreed to marry my now husband the day he told me he'd sell his BASE jumping equipment to buy a wedding ring.  He told me he wanted to be with me and have a family with me.  I squealed for joy and thought this was the end of it.

But the title of this post is not "Wife of a former BASE jumper" for a reason.

My hope as an outsider of the BASE jumping community I guess is I want to try to explain to the general public what I am learning about BASE jumpers.

I thought that BASE jumping  was something that my husband would look back on like my dad does about his year as a bull riding cowboy.  It was fun, it was exciting, but man was it nuts.  Probably once a year my dad watches the NFR on tv and hoops and hollers at the cowboys risking everything hoping for a bigger belt buckle. But other than that it is a distant memory that no longer has any influence on him.

But BASE jumpers, like my husband, are different.  It's what they live for.  I think this is what is so difficult for us to understand. When we think of things to live for we think of families, careers, a life of service... But for BASE jumpers, they view living a life to its fullest completely different.  Sure my husband doesn't jump anymore, but there isn't a day that goes by where I don't catch him watching a video, reading a forum on a new shoot or searching for new cliffs to jump off as we drive.  And all too often it makes me feel so guilty.  Did marrying me take away what my husband loves most?  Will he ever feel like he's truly living again? But my husband will say, "You have given me another reason to live." Unlike other BASE jumpers I've heard of who never plan on marrying or marry other jumpers who understand the life style, my husband did want something more. But I see how this type of person is very different from the norm.

It's something that most of us just can't understand. This concept of a life constantly on the edge, constantly taking risk, constantly gambling life....

So why do I write this post?  Someone who has viewed these people that I will never understand from a distance.....Because I read ridiculous comments whenever a jumper dies that say, "This should be outlawed!  Make this illegal!  Don't let people risk their lives!  Send them to prison for the rest of their life so no one else dies from this!"

And my response to these commenters is, jumping is the only way these people can feel like they are living life to its fullest.  Sure those of us on the outside will think this is stupid, this is dumb, why are they doing this?  But the bottom line is, we can't understand.

And the thing is.  That is okay.  We don't have to understand.

But please don't take away their reason to live.

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