Went and did a few BASE jumps last weekend, actually I just did some S jumps. S is for Span and includes Bridges, Slacklines, etc. B = Buildings, A = Antennas, E = Earth (cliffs and such). It was incredibly terrifying and at the same time it was very fun. The Perinne Bridge in Twin Falls, Idaho is open year round for BASE jumpers, one of the only places in the world that is a legal jump location. Hence, there have been thousands upon thousands of jumps off of this object, and many injuries as well.
The bridge itself is about a quarter mile long, so walking out to the middle is a bit intimidating in its own right, especially when you aren't planning on walking back. Standing on the edge, looking down, I was terrified for my first jump. My nerves were going haywire, sending odd sensations throughout my body. It took all I had to force myself to jump off, it was exponentially more difficult than stepping out on a highline is now. Though, I remember the second highline I ever walked, with Dylan and Said out at the Monastery. I was terrified for my life and I simply had to let it all go and focus on the goal that I wanted to achieve. The same occurred out there on the bridge. The quintessential feeling of gut-wrenching excitement brushed over me as I brushed with death, but all was well.
I did two jumps on the first day, both of which were PCA or pilot chute assists. In this method, someone holds your pilot chute as you jump, thus extracting the parachute almost immediately and can be safely done down to heights of 70 feet above the ground. This is the most common first jump as it allows one to become comfortable with the immediate exit and freefall, without having to concentrate on the deployment.
The second day I did 4 handheld jumps. I held the pilot chute in my hand, instead of stowing it underneath the container, and tossed it out into the wind after I jumped to initiate the deployment. You fall a lot further with these types of jumps compared to the PCA, but the parachute is still deployed safely above the ground.
My last jump of the day I did about an hour after sunset, which was fun because I've never jumped in the dark before. It was a little difficult, but not as bad as I thought.
The next day the winds were really high, so I only did one more handheld, and the last day I did my first stowed jump. That was fun, finally a real ground rush and a hard smack of an opening. All the landings were great, and I had a wonderful time.
Being out there, on the edge of mental stability and emotional strength, it becomes really difficult to step back and look at the big picture. In order to live life with purpose and intention you must live in the moment, but you can't always live only for the moment, there are other important parts of life as well. Nothing in this life is worth dying for, but many things enrich life so much that they are worth pursuing. The adventures and experiences that we have make our lives meaningful, but we must do these things for the right reasons. Being alive to be with the people whom we love and who join us in our plight for meaningful living is one of the most important things we can do in this life. Our existence is a chain of enriching ourselves with the presence of others, and returning the favor. Without the close friends in our lives, we would be nowhere. Looking into the edge of human capacity is a powerful way of seeing who we really are and finding out the people in our lives who are the most important. If we fool ourselves with ego-driven pleasures to try to make ourselves happy, we are only cheating ourselves of the pleasures that come with strong friendships and great times. Doing something such as BASE jumping or highlining or skydiving is incredibly selfish if you do it only for yourself, but doing these things to enrich your life and consequently enriching the lives of others, this is what gives life its meaning. The world doesn't need people who are sitting around wondering what they can do, the world needs people doing things that make them happy, because this happiness radiates infinitely. Doing something mediocre doesn't have any impact; doing something incredible, that is what will change the world.