Today I had a close call while BASE jumping from the Perrine Bridge. It was an occasion where I walked away physically unscratched but mentally aware that I was very close to serious injury or potentially death. My canopy was very close to catching on the steal after doing an unpacked jump so at the very least had this happened I would of had to have been rescued. I think about this instance today and reflect on other instances throughout my BASE career in which I was able to walk away unscratched but seriously close to a very bad situation. After this jump I went to a Yin Yoga class at Hive that I had been planning on and I am continuing my day as planned but otherwise I think about what happened earlier today and how significant something like this would be to your everyday average American and how although being fully aware of the seriousness I continue on very unaffected as far as I can tell that anything out of the ordinary happened. I feel desensitized to the potential for risk that I was just presented with but reading back over what I’m currently trying to express I feel that Im not actually desensitized per say but something different. By explaining what happened during my jump and diagnosing my emotions following the jump I am going to attempt to better explain these feelings to find relatable understanding.
Today there was a 5-7 MPH head wind. I felt comfortable with the conditions and prepared for an unpacked jump known as a TARD-over. The TARD-over makes since for a head wind because of the action involved in preforming this jump. To preform this jump you lunge forward exactly as if you are gonna do a slow front flip but meanwhile you are holding on to your canopy. With a Head wind the TARD-over is a good alternative for the reason that you are diving into the wind and flipping over/with your canopy. This aerial assists your ability to stay free of canopy that could otherwise blow into your body when preforming a normal TARD with a head wind. If there is a tail wind then a normal TARD is assisted by the wind helping the canopy to stay in front of you clear of anything that has the potential to snag. As I went to preform this jump I decided to do it a little ways down from the middle of the bridge. The middle of the bridge is where the steal hangs below the least and where I jumped there is more of a vertical gap needed to be cleared to avoid hitting the steal. Since I was preforming a TARD-over I knew that I would be holding it for longer than a normal TARD and therefore free-falling lower than the vertical amount of steal I needed to clear(hopefully). I climbed over the railing with my canopy in hand. Once I was comfortably on the edge I held my canopy slightly to the right of my body to help insure that I would be clear of any potential to snag. I was ready to go now and so I lunged forward diving away from the Bridge and as I flipped over my canopy and presenting it up into the wind I let go. My canopy had a 180 and I was in a line twist once my Canopy was inflated. I could feel my body spinning out of the twist so I allowed that to happen before reacting. Once reorientated and properly facing forward under my flying canopy I realized that I was flying back under the bridge and very close to the steal but I did not hit. As I gripped my reality and reacted accordingly I continued steering the canopy horizontally clockwise which was the direction I had untwisted in. As my canopy flew and before turning away I was visibly so close to the steal that I thought I was gonna strike. I continued to correct the situation and was fortunately what felt like only a few inches away from snagging the steel. The steel arches downward to create the support needed to hold the bridge upright and my canopy descended directly below steel following the descending arch. By continuing the turn inward and around under the bridge I choose the best possible direction to turn away from the steal. Had I tried to turn the opposite direction Im certain that I would have caught the steel with my canopy and what would of happen after that is only up to fate.
I packed my shit up after landing safely on the ground but fully aware of how close I was to a serious situation or worse. I contemplated the jump and everything surrounding what had happened while climbing out of the canyon. I gained a few insights for things that I won’t do again in the future but otherwise I feel as though life just continues on. I pick up on many things about myself after a scenario like this and now writing about it. I realize how much I live life in the moment. I believe now that Im not desensitized to risk or fear or death but more so I live so much in the moment that although it was a very serious occasion there is nothing more I can or want to do than take all the lessons I can learn from this, apply them to how I plan similar jumps in the future and continue on. Through BASE and becoming someone would lives more days in the moment than otherwise I realize I also apply this way of dealing with stress in other areas of life such as when a friend of mine dies. Mentally, Death of friends has been a very hard thing to overcome because that person is irreplaceable and the thought of never seeing them again is sad and overwhelming. So just as the jump that happened this morning in order to grow and continue to move forward as quickly as possible you can’t allow the negative emotions to take over for to long. For me, I must take what informative information I can from these instances or relationships and apply it to how I will think and act in the future to better myself and my ability, then I carry on with my life.
Now that I’m writing this out it is helping me to understand a lot more about myself. It feels like proof to me that there is nothing good from letting negative emotions take over control and allowing them to have control. This makes me see in myself that I’m not desensitized but that I have learned, grown and applied these ideas for living sub-consciously prior to now. Without being aware specifically until now I can see that I have trained myself and have become experienced enough with these life or death situations to finally realize that this is a trend. This is something I do to cope the best way I know how in order to keep myself moving forward as much as possible even when I’m presented with an uncomfortable situation. A friend dying is never less sad and a Life or death situation is never less serious but what you do when presented with these situations is up to you. Many people grieve for a long time after a death or reflect on a close call to the point of taking a break from BASE and the amount of time it takes someone to come to terms with these moments in life all vary person to person. I know personally that Ive contemplated death often and very seriously over the years since I began BASE jumping and my understanding and acceptance of death has changed and formed over time. Ive accepted death and I am content with the thought that I could die BASE jumping and I am personally okay with that outcome to the extent that I try very hard to make life lasting decisions. That being said, no one is perfect and close call instances like today happen more often than I would like but I know that I have no intentions of hanging up my rig anytime soon whether or not I have another close call or I get injured or if another friend dies. I passionately pursue BASE and have life long goals that include BASE therefore for me I guess I have realized this sub-consciously until now and I understand that for me to continue forward as positively and fluently as possible I must take advantage of all the ability I have to learn from what happened and then continue living in the moment. I read this quote a long time ago and its one that has stuck with me, depression is a result of dwelling on the past, anxiety is the result of over-thinking the future. This has helped me become aware of how my thoughts effect my emotions. The past and future are both important areas to contemplate but only to an extent. I believe there is a powerful balance for the contemplation of the past present and future. Goals for later in life are just as important as the goals you’re closer to reaching and acknowledging the past Is important to understanding what you want now and in the future. I believe that the majority of time spent in the moment is best and the key is to find out for yourself how much you should allow yourself to think about each.
This is unrelated sorta but something I wanna comment after I chose the photo for this post. I was scrolling my google photos account simply looking for a photo of the Bridge to help show what I'm explaining in relation to my jump today. After choosing this photo and remembering when I took it, this photo is of a bunch of people looking for a body below of someone who had just committed suicide by jumping off the bridge. Death is as common as life on earth therefor it is definitely worth investing some thought into. Be more curious than you are afraid.