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Essay 1

Fortune Favors the Bold

      Aaron Ralston, an active canyoneer, writes about a dramatic incident in which he finds himself trapped by a boulder for one hundred and twenty seven straight hours. The event, now written into a book and a movie, explores the reasons why Aaron decided to suddenly leave his quiet lifestyle and discretely embark upon this journey, which ultimately ends with the self-amputation of his arm. This occurrence, along with many others, puzzles safety-driven people around the world because the idea of indulging in such hazardous acts baffles their minds. These people generally believe that the world should ensure safety in all aspects of life from driving to work in the morning to willingly jumping out of a plane. With this idea in mind, one can begin to immerse one’s self in the battle between safety and risk. During this time, one must realize that in a world where “[s]afety has become the fundamental value…” (Furedi 1), numerous amounts of people find satisfaction and pleasure in wanting to break away from the norms of everyday life, watching people take extraordinary risks, and following in the footsteps of these risk-takers to depart from the security of today’s world both physically and mentally.

In order to full heartedly break away from the tyranny of today’s overly safe world, one must first embody the want and the need to depart from that lifestyle either once a week or for the rest of their life. In order to do this, one must understand why a departure from the status quo ends up being consequentially noble in the mindset that the current world restrains and confines creativity and adventure. For example, a businessman who has been buried head deep in paperwork might look to ways to physically and mentally escape from that lifestyle for a limited amount of time. When looking elsewhere for ways to get away from the busyness of that world, that person might begin to get the idea of trying an activity that would not be deemed safe or reasonable by his or her employees. This particular business might decide that “Activities such as going on holiday or taking drugs are ‘interruptions in the flow of life, interludes, temporary breaks, skirmishes, glimpses of other realities’” (Lupton 150). These interruptions, seen as extremely negative for businessmen, might be essential to the continuation of their stressful job. This necessity to get away from the stresses of everyday life can be seen by the high amounts of Americans who travel out to other parts of the world during the holidays and summer months because they cannot hope to remain sane by simply going to their jobs for an elongated amount of time. Thus, the compulsion to break away from the safety and stress of the world and to travel to other lands and experience daring sports can be seen through this example.

Before people go out and experience the world of dangerous sports and activities, they watch professionals engage in the activities and thus, see how the sports work on an expert level. These people, seen as professionals in the risky-sports business, make the action of gliding down a mountain seem like a relaxed and uncomplicated task. Because these people complete the sports in a nonchalant fashion, tourists and stressed businessmen believe that they can also complete the adventure as easily as the experts. What these people do not understand is that many of these experts started at a very truncated level and gradually made their way up the ladder of expertise. This implies that  “There is a belief among those who engage in edgework that ‘mental toughness’ is an innate ability, possessed by only a select and elite few” (Lupton 152). This mental toughness, which many novices believe they possess, ends up being the primary reason they indulge in the acts themselves. People can learn about extreme sports such as snowboarding or bobsledding when watching the Olympics, which solely encompasses masters of the individual sports. As an example, if a person diligently watches all of the high-speed ice skaters compete, that people might decide to treat him or herself to trying the sport themselves. When this happens, the person might not be interested in starting at a novice level because they have been watching people participate in the sport at the expert level. Consequently, one can begin to see the dangers in people not taking the appropriate steps working up to higher and more dangerous levels of high-intensity sports.

Once viewers gain appreciation of particular high-risk sports, they then want to experience the sport for themselves by paying for tour guides to take them up in a plane to skydive or guide them up colossal mountains. This final step in the process of novices attempting expert sports instigates the problem of making slightly dangerous sports considerably dangerous to these people. This problem occasionally ends with the death of a tourist or action-seeker and thus, makes its way into the media that magnifies the incident. When looking at this problem, the occasions where prepared individuals who suitably planned for the expedition experience a life-changing transformation must be seen as well. This scenario can be illustrated in a study where action junkies are interviewed and asked a number of questions with regard to the positive aspects that come from these sports. The study illustrates this point by stating that “A second participant elaborates upon panic and the ways in which addressing panic affects her thinking which she describes as amazing: ‘You have that instant of panic when you are in a dangerous situation and then it’s like no If I panic I’m lost, dead. It’s quite amazing really’” (Brymer and Schweitzer 482). This sudden realization by the sports participant may seem intimidating to many because for a countless amount of people, the idea of dying while performing an action never crosses their minds. This scenario, in some cases, ends up being on of the main reasons why people depart from their work style week to indulge in these activities.  These death-defying acts genuinely show the performers how precious life can be and thus, make their workweek seem more meaningful than usual. From these three points about the transformation of someone wanting to depart the norms of everyday life to the experiencing of the extreme sports themselves, the participants often undergo a life-altering phenomenon that affects them throughout the rest of their lives.

As mentioned before, the act of performing these prestigious feats encompass numerous different positive consequences. For example, if someone who is afraid height jumps out of a plane and successfully lands on the ground unscathed, that person might encompass a reduced fear of height. This example along with many others implies that these sports should not be seen as all that wicked because they sometimes conclude with a higher quality individual than the one who stay cooped up in their office for the duration of the week. This realization about these sports complies with the popularity that these sports have lately been receiving through the mass media. When a snowboarder successfully completes a death-defying stunt with the snowboard, a video releases on the Internet and thus, the sport of snowboarding gains popularity. To relate back to the idea that safety has lately become our fundamental value coincides with the norms of the everyday world. Because of this world, people wish to get away and experience other aspects of the world through these extreme sports which to some seen dangerous and precarious. For this reason, the need for novices to take the right steps to indulge in dangerous sports should be necessary. This necessity will end with less casualties and more acceptance in the real world because they will be seen as safer but they will still encompass the true aspects of the death-defying sports.


Works Cited

Brymer, Eric, and Robert Schweitzer. Extreme Sports are good for your health: A phenomenological understanding of fear and anxiety in extreme sports. Queensland: 2012. 482. Print.

Furedi, Frank. Culture of Fear. New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2006. 1. Print.

Lupton, Deborah. Risk. London: Routledge, 1999. 150. Print.


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