A Death and Life Wish

Terry Mattingly of GetReligion likes to talk about ghosts--hints of religion--in news story.

There's one in this story about BASE jumpers - people who parachute off of Buildings, Antennas, and Spans (or bridges).

Reporter Charles Duhigg of the LA Times followed BASE jumpers Karin Sako and Jeb Corliss to a bridge in Twin Falls, Idaho, as they prepare to leap off. There's a 1 in a 1,000 chance they'd die, compared to a 1 in 82,000 chance of dying while skydiving.

So why do they do it? Sako and Corliss won't say, at first.

Ultimately, Sako and Corliss claim, simply asking the question means you cannot understand its answer. It is a response cliched, inevitable and, ultimately, as dangerous as Adam and Eve's challenge to God.

Duhigg tracked down a psychologist at Temple who gave this explanation:

"The line between empowering risks and catastrophic risks is pretty fuzzy . . . Especially for someone who is seen as brave or a leader because they've taken risks before. Overcoming a fear makes you feel powerful. It becomes central to how some people see themselves."

But little by little, Sako and Corliss reveal themselves. It turns out that Sako's boyfriend, Dwaine Weston, was killed in a base jump with Corliss a few months earlier.

"Since his death I've wanted so badly to feel happy," Sako told Duhigg.Then she ends with this.

"When I'm falling, it's like I've managed to hold life in my hands
and compress all the beauty and the pain into one split second. Nothing else matters. It's like he's still alive."


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