Monday, August 25, 2014

To Bungee or Not to Bungee

A long time ago, someone had asked me if I had the chance would I bungee jump.  I remember when bungee jumping came on the scene in the late 70’s, early 80’s.  Mind you, this was before the internet, before video cameras, etc.  Bungee jumping was shown on TV as a fad; with people jumping from bridges…it was both exciting and scary at that point with people taking on the risk and no commercial locations offering “safe” jumps existed. By the time a friend of mine went to New Zealand and said he went bungee jumping because his friends went. I believe that I had already made up in my mind that there was no reason for me to put my life at risk doing such a stunt.  I had a wife and children, and I felt that if I was younger, maybe, but not at this point in my life.  I have felt the same way ever since.

When I went to Macau, on the ferry ride over from Hong Kong, there was a video advertisement for the Macau Observation Tower.  In the advertisement, they showed a clip of someone bungee jumping.  My friend next to me became all animated.  “That has to be the first stop.”  “Sure,” I responded along with the third person in our group.  On the way to the tower, my friend asked, “Wayne, are you going to join me in the jump?”  By the way, the jump in Macau is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the "Highest Commercial Bungee Jump In The World".

Immediately, I remembered my commitment that I would not jump and politely declined, and added that we would happily cheer him on.  This friend, as it ends up, is also a skydiver with over 4,500 logged jumps, and he did the bungee jump in New Zealand.  This was clearly within his comfort zone and WAY OUTSIDE mine.  There was about an hour wait, as between each person jumping, they take the time to reset everything based on the jumpers weight.  Finally, the moment of truth arrived.  With extreme confidence, he walked up to the edge, gave us the thumbs up, and then jumped off the side of the tower.  When he re-emerged, we greeted him with high fives as he related how great the experience was.  In the picture below, you can see him in the bottom center of the photo in the bright colored sneakers.

The Jumper ^

As we went on with our day, and in the days to follow, I began to wonder if I had missed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  Was this a chance to push the boundaries of my comfort zone to a place affecting my outlook on future events?  The answer, of course, is yes.  I could have had the chance to feel what it is like to “fly.”  I could have had the chance to overcome some fear that I might not be aware.  I could have had the chance to…  I had the chance, and leading up to the jump, I was texting with my family half a world away.  They cheered my friend, but did ask me, “Are you doing it?”  In that moment, my choice not to jump was reaffirmed. My family would have cheered for me, but I feel I have a responsibility to them.  I remember when my brother bought himself a motorcycle, my girls loved going for rides with him, but when asked if I should get one, they both said no, it is not safe for me.  As safe as the jump was, for me, the few minutes of excitement was not worth the feeling of putting my life in perceived jeopardy and the potential guilty I would have. 

What would you have done? Let me know below...