So ultimately the pursuit in life is for happiness, right? We look for those people, those things and those activities that provide some measure of it, as far as I can see. That’s what led me (and most jumpers I know) to skydiving. I mean sure, when most of us first started skydiving, it was for the thrill of it all. The crazy buzz that most (but not all) of us got the first time we took the leap. But as time passed, and the jump numbers increased, that “buzz” backed down quite a bit, and it just became … fun.
Happy is a state of mind I find I’m either in, or in constant pursuit of. I can’t ever recall waking up and thinking, “You know what I really want today? I really want a solid dose of road rage that gets its grips so deep into me, that even once I’m out of the car and I get stuck WALKING behind a little old lady on the sidewalk I lose my shit. I’m really hoping today is just going to be a soul-crushing bummer that makes me question all my decisions.” I’m sure there are some out there who go out of their way to just be pissed the fuck off, but it never sounded like a great route to me.
Here’s the thing though—having worked in the sport for as long as I have now, I’ve noticed how very easy it is for some to start not just taking for granted what we get to do, but even flat-out resenting it. For the longest time I marked it up to inexperience; a lot of the working jumpers I saw with this mentality were younger and had no real life experience, full of shit jobs for horrible money, nasty bosses, crazy long hours and all-around shitty existences. They didn’t realize how much worse life could get than cranking out 10 or 12 jumps, giving some random stranger the experience of a lifetime and heading home worn-out, but having defied the conventions of a so-called “normal” life and actually even been paid for it! The way they saw it, they were being forced to throw that drogue instead of doing that badass head-up jump their friends were on. They were stuck editing the day’s videos instead of heading out for that first round, or—horror of horrors—they were stuck with a shitload of nylon on the floor to be packed up before the next day. Seeing them looking at things this way just bummed me out and I hoped they managed to grow up enough to realize how lucky they really were.
But the thing is, it’s not always the young’ns I see feeling this way these days.
My generation of working skydivers has been doing this shit for a long time! We’ve racked up tens of thousands of jumps and taken students of every size, shape, gender and nationality. We’ve jumped over every continent, seen the amazing and the ugly, dealt with crazy dangerous situations and even the mundane, which to me seems pretty fucking epic. Now, I thought pretty much all the jumpers in my life see things just about the same way, but in recent observations, I find that not everyone necessarily does. They’ve been in it so long and gone so hard that the joy and the fun just aren’t there anymore, and I have to ask myself why in the hell they keep it up.
If you were to open my iPhone and pull up the pictures, what you would find consistently, week after week, through thousands of photos, is the scene out my office window. You’d find sunsets and sunrises, fun jumpers crammed in the Otter behind me, clouds, green fields, sandy beaches and lots and lots of blue sky. Luckily for me, I can’t get through one week (sometimes even one day) without seeing something so wonderful or cool that I feel the need to try and capture it with a photo. And the thing is, that’s while I’m at work! Seriously, how fucking lucky am I? I can’t think of a single accountant friend, banker, pit boss or mechanic who can say something like that, even if they do love their job! I mean, take Blue Skies Mag for instance: I’ve so much enjoyed and loved what I’ve done for the last 20 or more years that I’ve actually managed to write about it monthly for the last almost nine years! Fuck me, that’s a whole lot of happy …
So, as 2017 is just about on us, I sincerely wish not only for myself, but for each and every one of you out there, regardless of job (or lack thereof) that you find yourself either consistently fucking happy or consciously pursuing it. I hope one of the biggest stresses of your daily life is trying to get your phone into camera mode quick enough to snap a shot of whatever badass thing you’re looking at. I hope that you realize how lucky we (you) are to not only be part of our amazing sport, but realize how totally epic you are for joining us in skydiving’s version of that pursuit. Because in my opinion, it’s proof that you now, or at least at some point, aggressively chased after happiness like a fucking madman (or woman)! Blue Skies in 2017!