While reading through random news I found out that extreme sportsman and BASE jumper Dean Potter and one of his companions died while performing a jump in Yosemite National Park (perhaps they fell by accident?). Right now there is some speculation because it was not filmed or publicized and rather carried out in secret because they did not want the park rangers to see them. It is illegal to BASE jump in a national park.
Last year I saw his documentary and I couldn’t help but think, ‘this man is going to die doing this stuff.’ It’s eerie to see someone’s mortality in something they enjoy doing so much. On that level it’s not much different than someone dying of a drug overdose. For Potter, BASE jumping and other activities that could result in death, provided such an exhilarating but self-important purpose. He knew of the consequences. I believe he knew his cause of death wasn’t going to be from old age.
I see a tiny lesson from this. It’s beyond the lesson of resisting the urge to jump from mountaintops- which you couldn’t get me to do if it came with a million dollars, a million parachutes, and a million pillows at my landing site. From Potter I see the once-living example of a certain amount of audacity; what it takes to do what matters to you in your life. Sometimes there is great risk in attempting something. If it makes you a better person- go for it. I believe even with Potter’s shortened lifespan he was more fulfilled, more satisfied than a person who gets to 99 by just doing the ordinary and mundane.
Potter’s luck may have ran out and there will certainly be someone else to take his place. For most of us the same thing will happen (in perhaps a less devastating fashion), however- we will still be replaced by someone else who’s willing if we don’t follow our passion and life goals.