Are we living or dying?
I’m in a total state of shock right now. I just got a call from a friend telling me that one of our friends died in an accident.
Now, I need to set this up a bit more first...Alex and I weren’t close friends. But we were friends. We worked out together a bunch of times, had some drinks a few times, met for breakfast...That type of thing. A couple of guys with similar interests...Except that his background and experiences were extraordinary and I couldn’t hold a candle to them. You couldn’t help but be friends with him. You couldn’t help but want to be around him. Heck, you couldn’t help but want to be him.
We got introduced thru a mutual friend, the same one that called to tell me that he passed away...He was base jumping in Switzerland and something went tragically wrong. He didn’t have children, but was recently married.
Before you make any assumptions or judgements on what he was doing BASE jumping...Alex was a former Navy Seal; and one of the best trained, most experienced, decorated, Ivy League educated, adrenaline junkies around.
I remember one time finishing a workout with him and we went out to his car afterwards as he wanted to show me a video of him that he’d taken with some buddies jumping off a bridge in these incredible wing suits and literally flying over water and in between mountains...It was insane. He opens the trunk of his bad ass BMW M6 (I may have the model wrong) and there’s an M4 and a parachute staring back at me...Doesn’t get much cooler. The guy looked like James Bond, had made a successful transition from the Military to a career in finance, money, cars, women and was a Navy Seal for fucks sake....He said he’d take me skydiving one day.
I got the feeling though that despite his success and new civilian life that maybe there was some survivors guilt. That perhaps he was wrestling with “Am I really just going to be in a suit doing deals with other suits for the rest of my life”? Or “Why did I make it out and into this life”? There was still a thirst for adventure, risk and pushing the envelope. Maybe even a desire to reunite with some of his buddies and teammates that didn’t make it. I cant begin to imagine what he experienced or what this may be like.
But on a personal level I can relate and I think many of us can with the notion of “Are we living or are we dying”? What really matters? What risks are worth taking? What responsibilities do we have to ourselves, our families, our careers?
My father passed away when we he was 47 years old. Cancer. A long, slow death. I was just 17. My brothers 14 and 8...I’m 45 and my boys 14 and 11. I think about this constantly and how I choose to live my life. I cant imagine having just two more years to live. I cant imagine not being with them. Alex’s death is sudden. Tragic. He took risks. Far more than most people. He was healthy and adventurous and lived life to the fullest. I’d like to think he died just as he lived. Doing what he loved with people he loved. He was recently married, but did not have children.
Both of these situations suck. They end in death. But perhaps the lesson is to focus on happiness and the present. Experiences over things. Making the most of your finite amount of time on this planet. Taking calculated risks so that we have the freedom of living and not the fear of dying.
I’m going to rent that motorcycle and cruise thru the mountains of Colorado this summer. I’m not going to go cliff jumping though. I’m going to eat that cheeseburger today because I wouldn’t want to get hit by a bus tomorrow not having had a cheeseburger for 6 months....But, I’m also going to live a healthy and active lifestyle so I can hopefully be around for a very long time. I’m going to leave the office early so I can be at my kids games but I’m also not going to be afraid to send them away as they grow up so they can have adventures and experiences of their own.
I don’t know exactly where I’m really going with all this but I think that ultimately when I look back, I just don’t want to have any regrets. Somewhere in all this, there’s balance.
“We miss 100% of the shots we don’t take - Wayne Gretzky
RIP Alex -