Sunday, July 27, 2008

Jumping In With Both Feet

      There was an article in the local newspaper here not too long ago about two young men who were injured jumping into Lake Superior.  They had gone out of town along the shore to a place where there are big cliffs, and the one kid jumped off the top and hit the other one.  Yeah, he hit him when he jumped off.  I don't quite get it either.  I don't know if he just didn't jump outward enough, or if he caught him on the way by, or if he landed on the other kid or what.  But they managed to take each other out.  In the end they were rescued and they were okay, but why would you go there and do that?  Why wouldn't you just jump into the lake at Black Rocks in town where everyone else does?  That's when I realized that people love to jump off things.
      It's true.  And I am not sure why.  That's just the way it is.  In a few weeks my boys from home will make their yearly pilgrimage up to see me and high on their agenda is jumping off things.  On the day that they arrive they invariably will make me take them to Black Rocks and they will jump off into the water time after time after time.  They will do stunts and tricks and fancy ball throwing patterns and will have a blast.  They will jump off until they can't climb up anymore.
     Then the next day they will make me take them hiking up to the Dead River Falls and they will do the same thing there, jumping off the top of the waterfall into the pool below.  It's not as high, and a little more dangerous, so they won't do any of the stupid human tricks, but we will have a blast.  I am serious.  Sometimes I think that the only reason that they come up is to jump off stuff, because they don't have a lot of stuff to jump off of back home.
      Have you ever cared for a toddler?  Even just watched one for a couple of hours?  Those people jump off everything.  Tables, chairs, dressers, stairs, swingsets, maybe a trampoline or a local deck.  They will spend minutes and minutes figuring out how to climb up on top of the item, finally get to the top, and then they will spin around and just step out into space.  What the hell is with that?  Sometimes it's more like they did it unintentionally but usually they launch themselves.  "Hmmm...I am a 50 lb. toddler, and the couch is pretty soft and it's about ten feet away from this speaker that I am standing on, I could totally make it.  I mean, I know nothing about physics or general mathematical concepts but I am still going to launch myself and we'll see what happens."  That is crazy thinking.  But they do it anyway.  One of their favorite things to do is to jump onto you.  I don't know why that is.  I don't enjoy jumping off on things onto people.  I am not going to jump off the top of a picnic table onto Duke's head.  I am not going to jump off the top of my entertainment center onto Sister.  So why would a toddler decide that it's a good idea to do so?
     Grown up people jump out of planes for fun.  What the fuck's with that?  Engineers at Lockheed Martin and Airbus have spent decades designing planes to keep people UP in the air, and these yahoos are jumping DOWN out of them.  You are only supposed to jump out of an airplane if you HAVE to.  You aren't supposed to WANT to.  That's messed up.  That shouldn't be.  You are a sick freak if you are jumping out of a contraption that is built to keep you in the air.  If you want to have a reason to parachute out of something, have yourself launched into orbit in a speedboat.  Or a ceramic pot.  Because those things are not designed to fly and you should parachute out of them before they smash into a ground.  Planes generally don't smash into the ground at high velocity on purpose, so there usually aren't any good reasons to jump out of them.  Not even if you are in the Army.
     BASE jumping is becoming more popular by the day.  BASE is an acronym that stands for building, antenna, span, and Earth.  So, buildings, antennas, bridges, and cliffs.  Why would you do this?  Because apparently you feel that those idiots jumping out of planes are little nancy girls.  BASE jumping has all the "thrill" of jumping out of an airplane without all of the creature comforts of, oh I don't know, time to deploy your chute, and backup chute, or legality.  That's right.  People are trespassing and breaking all sorts of laws just to jump off the tops of things.  That's not right.  The only guy who ever broke the law to jump out of a plane was D.B. Cooper.  But every Branden, Heidi, and Ally is climbing fences, stopping traffic, or prying open ventilation covers to jump off of things.  I just don't get it.
     I am not sure why we seem to have this innate desire to jump off things.  Maybe it's because jumping is the closest humans will ever come to flight.  Perhaps we just like the rush of knowing that we are doing something deeply unnatural.  Could it be that we are not in control and we like it?  I don't know.  I don't care.  I don't feel that way and I don't get it.  You won't catch me jumping off of things.  I will fall off of a lot of things, but I won't jump off of them.  Except the stairs of my deck.  Those things are fun to jump off of.

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