A lone man waddles to the edge of a cliff. A little over 500 feet below him, the bottom of the cliff is dotted with rocks. Tall and unforgiving, these ancient behemoths wait for his tumble off the edge. It is just before dusk and the entire national park is laid out before him. For miles around some of the most majestic untarnished forest in all of America stretches to the horizon. The wind kicks up for a moment, something he takes dire note of, swirling the smell of earth and the bitter smell of fear upward towards his nostrils. He takes a deep breath, steadies himself, and pictures why he has finally chosen to do this. And then he leaps.
All around him people are screaming, some horrified, others enthralled. But all are too far back to stop him. They watch as his form plummets towards the earth.
He has never felt so alive, ironic this close to death, but invigorating nonetheless. The wind whips through his clothing, and his eyes quickly dry out from the sheer force of the updraft. He blinks once, twice, and reaches behind him. The ground approaches at an alarming rate now. He’d assumed he would have longer. The adrenaline finally his in full force, slowing down time. He can pick out every grain of dirt on every rock beneath him. The rushing wind has all but rendered his hearing useless, but he feels himself screaming.
And then he pulls the ripcord. His parachute billows out, the lines pulling taunt, snapping his whole body upright. He feels like he was just hit by a car, but his plummet to earth has now become a gentle floating. He realizes that he had been holding his breath and he lets it out in one big whoosh!
Above him the crowd’s cheers finally reach his ears. As he comes to a gentle stop at the base of the cliff, he turns around to salute them, and their screams echo across the national park.
This man has just completed his fourth BASE jump and will receive his BASE number, but his mind isn’t dwelling on that. It is still reeling from being so close to death, only to dart away at the last moment. Every breath he takes feels better than any breath he’s ever taken. And when the sunrise finally crests the hill to his east, it is the most beautiful of his life.