This I Believe

Jim - Estes Park, Colorado
Entered on August 9, 2006

I believe the cautious path is rarely the best. At a young age, the thought of sleeping in a tent was frightening but exciting. After a few abbreviated backyard camping adventures, I made it all the way to dawn.

Next came the challenge of a Boy Scout campout. The comfortable path was to spend summer weekends enjoying the beach with my buddies. The best path was to leave behind the familiar and take a try at a bit of self-sufficiency.

Boy Scout campouts led to weeklong backpacking trips, which led to climbing mountains – lots of them.

I’m not particularly courageous. I like comfort and certainty. But I’ve learned that when I succumb to their lure, I miss opportunities, adventure and joy. If I let fear win, I lose.

Rarely does a day pass when I don’t find myself faced with a decision that presents both a cautious and an adventurous course. It’s always easier to take the cautious course – fear and uncertainty always support that decision. While the adventurous path is not always the best, it is more often than my security needs tell me.

When I became an adult my opportunities for adventure were over-shadowed by new obligations. The adventure of my youth became a memory and the joy of taking the adventurous path became dim, until a failed marriage led to one of those “why am I here and what is life about” moments. I was not sure if re-embracing adventure was the solution, but I knew that the cautious and responsible path had left me unfulfilled.

It was time to pursue a long dormant goal I set as a teen and re-stoke the fire of adventure by attempting a skydive. I needed to see if I had the courage to spite caution and actually jump from a plane in flight.

There is no rational explanation. It was about challenging myself and reclaiming the adventure that had yielded such joy in the past.

The first jump led to a second and a third and ultimately thousands. It led to breathing adventure in the lives of the hundreds I’ve taken for their first skydive. It led to four skydiving world records and skydiving to the North Pole.

And in the process, the adventurous path became my path – and I’ve never regretted it.

By Jim , four-time skydiving world record holder