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Standing Gently by the Truth

Jean and Carl Boenish. Still from "Sunshine Superman" courtesy Magnolia Pictures. | Blue Skies Magazine i68: August 2015 | blueskiesmag.com
Jean and Carl Boenish. Still from "Sunshine Superman" courtesy Magnolia Pictures.
Written by Mara

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Originally printed in issue #68 (August 2015) of Blue Skies Magazine.
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Jean Boenish, BASE #3

Right before the launch of “Sunshine Superman” in Los Angeles and New York, I sat down with director Marah Strauch and one of the stars of the movie, Jean Boenish. The first part of that interview was published in Blue Skies Mag i66: July 2015. This is a follow-up of my discussion with Jean about her philosophy on BASE and life.

Mara Schmid (facing away from the camera) interviews "Sunshine Superman" director Marah Strauch (middle) and Jean Boenish, BASE #3 (right). | Blue Skies Magazine i68: August 2015 | blueskiesmag.com

Mara Schmid (facing away from the camera) interviews “Sunshine Superman” director Marah Strauch (middle) and Jean Boenish, BASE #3 (right).

“There’s this sense of power that we have gained from a refreshing day of jumping. There’s a sense of enlightenment and being lifted to another place, that we want to be able to bottle and take away with us … and be able to figure out how to share it with other people.”

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Taking the joy and transcendence from skydiving and BASE and disseminating it in a wider sense is very important to Jean. “We’ve been given something,” she says. “It’s a gift that we’ve engaged, but it carries with it the obligation to take what we’ve learned and somehow figure out how to convey to people the precious messages that will take away the hate and the fear and the abuse and the violence. And show that they can have uplift in their lives … that will offer them something better. [It] doesn’t have to be through jumping.”

Jean and Carl ready to go. Still from "Sunshine Superman" courtesy Magnolia Pictures. | Blue Skies Magazine i68: August 2015 | blueskiesmag.com

Jean and Carl ready to go. Still from “Sunshine Superman” courtesy Magnolia Pictures.

She is thrilled with how Marah Strauch’s documentary “Sunshine Superman” conveys this precise message. “The thing about ‘Sunshine Superman’ is that it reveals that flame. It reveals the presence of the flame. The flame never goes out, no matter what particular individual body it was attached to. It never goes out. And it can be shared in a way that is embracing everybody. It is not—absolutely not—an exclusive activity. It’s not meant to be. By nature, it’s not meant to be something that is only for special people or those who are the cream of the crop. That’s not it at all. It’s inclusive. It’s about touching everybody with a residue of good, and making sure that our impacts are only good. There’s nothing that could be exclusive about that true nature, that is BASE jumping, and skydiving too. So take away the airplanes, take away the hot air balloons, take away the cliffs, and there’s our challenge: to take what we’ve experienced and figure out how to apply it in ways that will give everybody that same level of uplift.”

Jean also hopes that the film will help reconnect current and future generations of BASE jumpers with the roots of the sport. “It gives the younger jumpers some of the idea of the true nature of BASE jumping, which I think has not really been conveyed very well, or just lost or rewritten for different reasons.

“It’s about the purity and the camaraderie. The technical preparation, once you’ve done that, which of course is very important—but that’s obvious it’s very important—then you’ve got more than 90% of it done, once the technical preparation and technique are decided on—so then the whole rest of the voyage, from the time you leave your door with your gear packed, is about the camaraderie, and the sharing, and the love, and the purity. Doing no harm, and taking good things to people. Getting beyond the jump, to getting to know the locals, and respecting the environment, stewarding it well. Leaving no bad residues. Only good impacts.”

Jean and Carl Boenish. Still from "Sunshine Superman" courtesy Magnolia Pictures. | Blue Skies Magazine i68: August 2015 | blueskiesmag.com

Jean and Carl Boenish. Still from “Sunshine Superman” courtesy Magnolia Pictures.

This thought leads Jean to an issue of great concern to her. “Probably one of the biggest things to me is environmental stewardship. We can’t wait. We can’t wait. I’ve seen how bad it’s gotten in my life. And to undo the environmental mess is the most important thing. We have to have engagement, by all of the governmental structures, and all of the people who are impacted.

“Everything can be reversed. There’s nothing that’s wrong that [can’t be fixed], even if it seems insurmountable. Let’s just start fixing it. Like pollution. You can’t just keep doing the wrong thing, or allowing it to happen. You have to stop it, and then start doing the right thing. So even if other people are saying, ‘Can’t do it, can’t do it, can’t do it.’ Well, fine, all right. I’m going to do it. I’m going to do it … and people will join. They will come. Even if it takes a while. And you guys are the next generation, so you’ll keep doing it too …

“You can’t wait for anybody else. Because if you wait, then you’re part of the problem. We all have a way that we can gently stand by the truth, and we can stand by the truth in everything.”

(l to r) Jean Boenish, Mara Schmid and "Sunshine Superman" director Marah Strauch. | Blue Skies Magazine i68: August 2015 | blueskiesmag.com

(l to r) Jean Boenish, Mara Schmid and “Sunshine Superman” director Marah Strauch.

[team_member image_url=”123623" name=”Mara Schmid” role=”Contributor”]About the author: Mara Schmid is a writer, skydiver and the Editor-In-Chief of Hussy Magazine, www.hussymag.com.[/[/team_member]h3 class="ipHeading">Like this article?

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1 Comment

  • What a great article. Thanks Blue Skies. I cannot wait to see this documentary. Long ago Carl taught me my “First Base Jump Course,” which in those days was a 20 minute talk. I found he and Jean to be so inspiring to be around.

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