Wednesday, June 27, 2007

BASE jumping and flying like a bird

I learn extraordinary things in my job -- which is transcribing whatever tape or video comes my way. The range is amazing. Today and for the rest of the week it's raw video footage, interviews and so on, about BASE jumping. I know that "Extreme Sports" are a recent big fad. But I only vague knew that there was a jumping sport different from sky diving. These are people who jump off buildings, bridges, cliffs and other high structures wearing a specially rigged parachute. The guy who's teaching classes [several are] in this video, which is to become a TV program, is a level headed, highly articulate, obviuosly intelligent man who speaks about ethics and responsibility and danger but he's far from a macho yahoo. He now mostly jumps off a bridge over a canyon in Idaho. He was very badly hurt once but was not detered from going back to the sport. He emphasizes the need for serious training and rationality about when and where to jump.

One of his students is a 50ish woman who has done a great deal of sky diving but is a novice at BASE jumping and is eager to learn She says that what she gets out of skydiving and the one jump she's made is a feeling of elation, i.e., "I just can't stop smiling for about two weeks after." She's unusual in that, as one would expect, there are not many, if any, other 50ish women learning to do this. Why now? she was asked. "If you want to do something and don't get a chance when you're younger than do it when you can," she says. Simple enough. But how many have her attitude? This isn't the end of her ambitions although she looks forward to learning to be a good BASE jumper. Her ultimate goal is to jump off a cliff wearing a "flight" suit. She describes it as a suit with fabric that makes a wing web and a web between the legs. Apparently such suits exist andd people have been flying in them, gliding like hawks or eagles, says she. This is her dream. The Icarus dream! A flying dream she's had since she was three. And she is willing to put in a lot of work to learn BASE jumping, which will be a thrill itself, but with the flight of birds, as her dream goal. A gusty and wonderful woman. I'd never "meet" such a person, but I feel, listening to her on the tape -- totally uncut -- that I have come to know something more about the deterination to fulfill your dreams -- which, in this case, is one of humankind's most mythological dreams.

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