Today marks the anniversary of my first BASE jump. I made 82 jumps over the year. I would love to have broken 100 but at the same time its not about the numbers.
The experiences I’ve had, the places I’ve had the opportunity of visiting, and the people I’ve met over the last year have been life changing.
BASE has given me a true appreciation for life. I’m often asked why I choose to participate in an activity that is so dangerous and while I think it’s unexplainable in words, and that you have to experience it to fully understand it I want to make an attempt at doing so, and list some of my favorite things about it so here it goes.
1- It forces you to be present and confront yourself
How often in life are you truly in a position knowing that there is a possibility you can die? Sure, any one of us could die in a car crash today but it’s something you don’t usually think about.
Any day that I know I might be jumping I walk around with butterflies in my stomach and I’m constantly fighting the ‘what if’ scenarios that my mind wants to create. When I’m on a jumping trip I don’t deal with it as much as when I’m at home because it almost seems like its not real. Jump, pack, repeat is the usual process when somewhere like Idaho. The world seems to be on pause and all that exists is whats right in front of you but at home I have my real world responsibilities to work into the mix as well.
On a day when I might be jumping I sometimes walk around thinking that it might be my last day alive and I focus on all the things in my life that I’m grateful for, knowing that it might be the end. I wrote about this in detail in a previous post that was published on Skydive Mag (read it for a little more perspective).
You really learn a lot about yourself and put your life in perspective when standing on an exit point or clinging to a ladder hundreds of feet in the air and I feel that I have learned more about myself in those moments in the past 12 months than any other period in my life to date.
It’s a very spiritual experience for me.
2- Problem Solving
Every jump is totally different even if it’s off the same object, with the same gear, and with the same people. The wind is always a little different. The day or night leading up to it is always different. How you feel is always different. Because of this you have to access the situation differently and come up with strategies on how to safely pull off the jump. A ‘normal’ person wouldn’t believe how much planning goes into something that might last 20seconds from the moment you step off the edge to you getting your feet back off the ground. This planning and on the spot decision making is very fulfilling to me.
I love going to new places and exploring. I’ve been doing it my whole life. The way a new place looks, smells, and feels. I love it all. BASE is allowing me to travel to places that I wouldn’t have gone without it and it allows me to see things from a totally different perspective. Standing on a cliff and taking in the amazing views is one thing, but to do so then jump off, and hike out is something totally different and very special. This past year I was just jumping around the US but I have upcoming plans of going to Italy, and next year Norway and Malaysia to jump.
4- The People
There is a very strong bond that forms when sharing intense moments with people. I’ve been doing this my whole life through various different sports and I’m truly addicted to it. I’ve experienced it through all sports but when you make eye contact with a fellow jumper in the moments leading up to a jump or give each other knuckles there is an unsaid understanding of the risk you are both about to take and you again share in each others elation on the other end of the jump.
Not to mention all the crazy shit that happens outside of jumping. The jokes, constant antics, and fucking with each other as much as possible is always really fun.
People who I didn’t even know a year ago I now consider family and that will continue to evolve over the years.
5- It’s fucking AWESOME
When that chute opens without any problems it’s like breathing for the first time. I look around as if I’ve been blind but can finally see. The world seems fresh, problems seem distant, and stress is completely gone.
There’s a moment when you step off the edge that seems to happen in slow motion and you remember so much detail about such a short period of time. This feeling is extremely addictive and must be controlled. Anything that seems to good to be true usually is.
I’ve thought about giving up everything in my life many times to pursue that moment more and more but I’m able to keep it at bay.
There life changing consequences from errors in judgement, impatience, and plain stupidity. I plan on doing this for a long time so taking a somewhat conservative progressive approach is what will lead to that.
Finished 4 books this month. 3 physical and 1 audio. I’m still going strong with my early rising and it’s probably my favorite part of the day right now.
—>The Power Of Now – Title seems somewhat cheesy and the book can be summarized in one sentence – Focus on being Present. Tolle’s book “A New Earth” was the one that was my main introduction into the world of spirituality and inspired my 2nd tattoo which simply reads ‘Presence’ – I remember reading that book while I was in Australia taking my CrossFit L1 in 2009 and I constantly refer back to it.
The Power Of Now was one I avoided reading for quite a while cause I figured that I knew what the message was and how to apply it to my life already but it was a great read. In order to truly make any behavior or habit a part of who you are it requires constant practice so reading this was a helpful way to keep things fresh. Despite the simpleness of the title it’s actually quite a heavy book to read. It took me a while to get through it as it makes you think a lot and I would constantly have to put it down and reflect on stuff, sometimes not picking it back up again for several days. Highly recommended if you are caught in the trap of thinking that ‘things will be better when X happens’
or if you already apply this concept to your life and simply want to refine your habits.
—>Trust Agents – This was published in 2009 but the information is still very relevant. It’s all about building Trust within Business by all the different avenues available. Physical Interaction with clients, Writing Articles/posts, Making Videos, Being active on Social Media, and a few more.
Great read and it lead me to doing a little research on the authors and I’ve added some of their newer books to my ever growing wish-list on Amazon.
—>Leap First – Godin’s work always seems to revolve around the same themes of going against the status quo, overcoming fear, and putting yourself out there – All things that are at my core. Nothing necessarily new in this audiobook but great to refresh those ideas and keep me inspired on my mission to master my life in every aspect.
—>Learning to Fly – This book is a memoir by Steph Davis who is an icon in the worlds of Rock Climbing and BASE. The book documents her progression into the world of BASE and Wingsuit Flight and was extremely inspirational. I love reading stories about people overcoming struggles, shaping their lives exactly how they want, and not conforming to the common way of life. I’ve started reading more memoirs recently and I find them very inspirational.
Physical – My elbow injury simply wont go away no matter how much I lay off it. I haven’t done Pull-ups in almost 3 months now. I was using the time to get really good at squatting but even going heavy twice a week I started getting pretty bad knee pain which is another first for me.
I’ve settled into a flow of doing 3-4 workouts a week and having them be focussed more on muscular endurance type stuff revolving around things which I’m comfortable with for now. I wanted to drop some weight to be a little more agile for Jumping so I’ve been weighing and measuring everything in order to help with that. I’m currently down 9lbs and it feels great. I have weeks where I’m extremely strict and then others where I kinda go by feel and it’s working out really well. I didn’t have a timeline with getting my weight down so taking a slow and steady approach is working for right now and will be more maintainable long term.
The CrossFit Opens started this past week. I decided to register even though I haven’t been training at all for it. It’s a good weekly test for me to go hard and to be involved with the gym at a core level. On the first workout I really surprised myself finishing the 5th round and then Clean + Jerking 295lbs. While I’m quite pleased with this it’s funny cause I’m in CrossFit shape at the moment. I put in A LOT of work over my first 3 years in CF and it’s nice to know that I can still hold onto some of it and tap in when I need to.
I’m going into all the workouts with no expectation and I’m only going to do each one once.
BASE/Skydiving – I made it out to San Diego for 4 days at the beginning of the month and got 8 skydives in. This included my 200th which is a big milestone. Unfortunately no BASE jumps which is becoming ever frustrating. I started Skydiving and BASE because I actually want to pursue them as sports and living somewhere where the weather is extremely inconsistent for both is not good enough for me.
Its great to be able to travel and get a lot of jumps in over a few days but I would prefer to be able to get a couple in a week and just have it be a part of my existence vs something I have to constantly leave for. At the moment it is what it is and I just have to deal with it.
Work/Business – February has been the worst month for business year after year. This year even more so. We’ve been getting pounded with snow storms, it’s dark when you wake up and go to bed, people who work in trades and first responders are forced to work more hours … The list goes on. What it results in is that people are more tired than normal, uninspired to come in and workout, and as a result they quit the gym.
This year I was prepared for it but it didn’t help the sting anymore than previous years. I took the opportunity to start new programs, make more content, run a nutrition challenge, and have more of a presence within both gyms than usual but it didn’t make any difference as we ended up having one of the worst months ever since being open.
The never ending roller coaster of owning a business has extremely low points but it’s contrasted with highs that you cannot experience otherwise. I accept both and as they say ‘the day is darkest before the dawn’ I know I will come out on top with time.
Travel – 2 weekends away this month. San Diego as mentioned above and I took Sara to Miami for her birthday as well. The business being where it is definitely took up a lot of my mental energy while away but thats the balance.
While at home I work 12-14 hours a day on average so getting away and as a result of the internet not working in our hotel I was forced to ease up on it. I didn’t plan on working much while away anyway but this added to the list of reasons to take a little break.
The weekend was great – spent some time on the beach, ate a lot of great food, and had a lot of quality time with wifey. Sara has been my sounding board for all my desires and fears over the years and as time goes on I open up more and more to her. I am truly grateful to have someone in my life that is so accepting of me the way I am.
We also were able to meet up with Nick (my business partner) for dinner as he was out here to see his family for a couple days. He took us to this fancy restaurant that was designed by a French artist, the wait staff pulled out your chair for you when sitting down and put your napkin across your lap for you. Treatment I am really not used but it was cool to experience that side of things.
Additional – It’s obviously easier to keep your mind in a good place when things are working out the way you want them to but the challenge and growth in life comes from being able to turn your shit around when things are not going your way. For this reason this month was very beneficial to me personally. My clients going through periods of un-inspiration and the business not doing well resulted in me doing a lot of mental work and balancing out my own perceptions. My Life Coach once told me “You can only help others to the degree you can help yourself” and that was definitely the theme of this month. Realizing and applying the concept of there being an upside to every situation no matter how it is first perceived takes a lot of work by asking questions and keeping your mind open and I’m grateful for that.
Spent the weekend in one of my favorite places on Earth – San Diego. Getting away from the snow was a great reset for me and a reminder to be ever grateful for the weather we get during the summer in Boston. I absolutely love Boston and the life I have created for myself there but the weather is a deal breaker.
While away I still got up at 3am and worked till almost 8, jumped for a few hours, worked for a few more, went and got some food, and went to bed at 8pm. Not a ‘vacation’ as such but that wasn’t the point of the trip. It was basically what a summer weekend looks like for me while I’m in Boston.
The main purpose of the trip was to get some training in for a BASE jumping trip I have planned in June and thats exactly what I did. I also did my 200th skydive which is a big milestone. I can now ‘officially’ jump with a camera even though I’ve been doing it since I’ve had 80 jumps or so and I qualify for my C license. I never even got my B (eligible after 50 jumps) because I was lazy about it and kept putting it off.
I’ve said it time and time again but I never really feel the need to get away from my life. When I leave everything tends to follow me. I still have pretty much the same responsibilities as I do when other than physically being in the gym coaching. This is a very important factor to me and I miss it when I’m gone. I miss have my people around me! I love all the computer work I have to do and staying in touch with clients and it’s great that I can still do that while away.
Each time I come to Cali I always think that I would love my life exactly the way it is but have it be there. If I could just pick everything and everyone up and move it all to San Deigo it would be so much easier!
Having said that I think I will eventually end up out there at least for part of the year more permanently. My vision of how to make it happen is becoming more and more clear so it’s just a matter of putting it in motion.