Thursday, October 14, 2010

Safe or Sorry: this is my Question

What is the difference between parasailing and paragliding?  In the first, semi-adventurous tourists put on a parachute and are towed behind a speed boat; while paragliding requires a level of moxie that few people have. Enthusiasts hike to the top of cliffs and throw themselves off, depending on a flimsy nylon parachute to slow their accelerated rate of descent. What kind of fool would choose this for recreation? Me, I hope—if I had known then what I live now.

If at, say, 25, I followed Alice down the rabbit hole and was given a glimpse of my life at 45 would I have suddenly gained the internal fortitude to do all types of seemingly crazy things. It is one of those 'road less traveled,' right turn/left turn questions that philosophers have chewed over for ever. I am more interested in imaging the kinds of things that I passed over-thinking I could always get to it later.
These thoughts were triggered by a video I saw of a couple hiking through a South American jungle with the sole purpose to jump off a cliff. The wife is having so much fun, she does a back flip off the edge. The husband gets caught in a wind current and slams into a tree. Even after a severely broken leg from this accident, a year later he is eagerly planning his next jump. Crazy? Absolutely, but, at the same time, so darned alive. If I had my health back I think I would start with bungee jumping, move to paragliding, and 'take the leap' to base jumping (same jump, no chute). Not because I had my full functioning body back, but because being safe and sensible doesn't guarantee that you will be safe or that life will be sensible.
Would I rather: be a quad from hitting my head on the ocean floor or sit safely in the boat; eat the volcanic Thai food or stick with the one star; take the payment optional roving reporter job or settle in to editors desk. I often say that except for MS, John and I would be backpacking now. In reality, we had plenty of health years where we were too busy, too parents, too career to take a weekend day-hike trip, let alone a summer to reclaim the Pacific Crest Trail.
This isn't about regret—rather a touchstone to return to the next time I make a seemingly small choice or awesomely large decision. My paragliding, hiking, and volcanic food (and roller derby-too bad) days are behind me, but who knows what is ahead. Maybe the next time I find myself in an island locale, I will sign up for the parasailing.


Anonymous said...

Janine - you so elequently say what we all need to remember. Hugs to you

Anonymous said...

LOVE IT! You are so right. And awesome. Love you, Janet

Muffie said...

You're a better (wo)man than I, Gunga Din. There is no way, healthy or not, that would get me to do any of those things! All right, call me Chicken, but I would never do them. I can find excitement right here on terra firma! You're just a brave soul, Janine!

Anonymous said...

Wow! Sometimes I wrestle with saving for retirement or traveling (I love to travel). Planning for the unknown--its difficult. I think that everything within our control in life, comes down to finding balance. And finding balance has been no easy task for me.

My best, Deanna

Anonymous said...

Janine, So well said and so true! Wish I hadn't been so hung up on having a clean house. Love ya, Reen