Everyone who lives dies, yet not everyone who dies, has lived. We take these risks not to escape life, but to prevent life escaping us.
One of my fellow PG Forumers has this as his tagline. I like it, even if it sounds a bit trite. At the age of 53, I'm probably ripe for a midlife 'crisis' of some kind, but there are no Harleys, affairs with 25-yr-olds, or tattoos in my near future. I imagine that's because I still feel alive and young enough that death is either going to come spectacularly, or much later on. . .
I guess you could call me a flyer - I've flown some form of aircraft since I was 14 yrs old. For the last 35 years I've made my living flying airplanes. Now, as a 747 pilot I'm more of a manager and less of a pilot. I fly 15 hour international flights that guarantee that I will be tired when making the approach and landing. For that reason, I employ automation and procedures to minimize the opportunity for error. I guess that's why I fly these crazy paraglider competitions.
My slick little paraglider is undoubtedly the lowest performance aircraft I've ever flown - although flying one is the closest thing to spreading my wings and just flying. Paragliders are the easiest aircraft to learn to fly but they take quite a while to learn to fly well. And flying cross country flights is very challenging. I think the challenge is where it's at for me. The focusing nature of being no more than 20 minutes from landing, unless you find lift, keeps me consumed in concentration until I cross the goal line. As I've said before, this sport can seem very trivial to those that 'don't get it' - and I understand. It's just like me 'not getting' why somebody would want to collect Beany Babies . . .
But it doesn't make the impact on my life any less that you, or my wife, don't understand why I do it. My wife does understand (from experience) that if I don't get to fly for a week or two, I get edgy and restless. And I think that she intuitively understands that I need to get into the air - as much as I need to breath the stuff.
What's my point? I don't know, really. I just had my 15 yr. old hound-dog put out of his misery this week. . . He lived a full life and crawled into the garden to die under his favorite tree. I think he was satisfied with his life and lived until he was ready to die. I wish the same for us all.