In This Issue

With Gratitude

Written by James La Barrie

Online Reprint

Originally printed in issue #68 (August 2015) of Blue Skies Magazine.
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We all know people in this industry who would give you the shirt off their back if you asked for it, and the sport is filled with these people.

Today while driving home I passed a truck that was proudly flying the Confederate flag. I felt my jaw stiffen and I turned my head to see what kind of person would be proudly flying a symbol of hate within two weeks of nine people being senselessly murdered in a church a few short hours away in Charleston, South Carolina.

As I drove another mile, I looked over at my girlfriend and said while smiling, “America is the greatest place in the world.”

Although I personally feel strong animosity toward this symbol of hate, we live in an incredible country where you are free to express yourself and be who you are—even at the expense of showing intolerance toward others. It may seem counter-intuitive, but we are lucky to live in a place that allows this dichotomy to exist.

I feel incredibly fortunate to have come to this country because of what America has allowed me to do: dream and pursue my dreams. I can sincerely say I have been able to make a living from my passions. Had I stayed in Antigua, where I am from, I would have been forced into a career I had no passion for due to limited opportunities.

Often, when meeting new people and recounting my life—which includes working as a golf professional for five years, running a skydiving center, owning a skydiving video concession and now a marketing agency—it seems unreal. It certainly sounds cooler than I am, especially to those outside our industry.

Further gratitude is felt toward the people within skydiving who have given me so much: friendship, time, love and even money. We all know people in this industry who would give you the shirt off their back if you asked for it, and the sport is filled with these people.

At the end of August, I will be traveling to Australia for seven weeks to consult with 13 different DZs dotted all over the continent. I will see this country in more detail than if I were going on vacation, and I will once again meet more people who share in the goodwill found in skydiving. Pinch me. How did this happen and how am I so lucky?

During my early career in the business of skydiving, I had many people ask, “Are you still doing that skydiving thing?” I always took that to mean, “When are you going to get a real job?” I know anyone who has solely drawn all their income from skydiving has been asked this more than once.

If there’s anything I’ve learned during this incredible journey, it’s that the most important thing we can do for ourselves is to pursue our passions. It’s a risk without guarantee of success, but it really is the process, not the outcome, that has brought me so much happiness.

I have more than I could want and have discovered that money takes care of itself when you go after your passion with all of your energy. Had I listened to those who urged me to find different employment, I doubt I’d have the perspective that I have today. I’m living beyond my dreams and enjoying life in an extraordinary country within an amazing industry.

With gratitude,
James

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