Oftentimes, the more secure you try and force yourself to feel, the less secure you truly become…For people who live their lives taking risk, stepping through doors, and pursuing their dreams, nothing could hold more truth.  The cold hard fact is that our lives and our world are inherently insecure by design.  Change is the only constant we can count on and the absolute frailty of the human body and our existence as life-forms on this planet are things to be accepted and embraced rather than feared.  And people who try and hide behind their illusions of security are generally only trying to conceal a deeper sense of personal insecurity with their environment and the world around them.  Rather than taking chance and absolutely living their lives to the fullest, they try and hide behind closed doors, blast-proof walls, and the fortresses of their minds only to see time and their lives slowly pass them by.  I am a firm believer that none of us can truly hide from our own fate and our own destiny in this world and it is only by fully living and seeking out our talents and our networks that we may realize our full potential in the short time we have been given…

In this life, the most secure people I have met are those who routinely take the most amazing, but calculated risks.  There is something about them that simply shows that they are deeply comfortable in their own skin and with their own reality.  Almost all of them know close friends who have passed in pursing their same passions and yet, rather than let their loss keep them down, they continue to live their lives as a celebration of their existence in all its awesome and finite nature.  As a result, they form close relationships easily, can get along with just about any crowd, and have absolutely nothing to fear from the awkwardness of any social encounter…for after you have been ridiculously close to death, all your other problems just don’t seem so real anymore….

For the military, I fear we have grown all too risk-averse in the recent times.  While surely 10 years of war and struggle will tire out any organization, I fear that we are losing tough with the very nature of our profession and the risk-taking, cavalier types of personalities that it attracts.  War will always be a risky endeavor and unfortunately, casualties will always be a part of it, yet as long as the mission is just, the only way of accomplishing it is by stepping outside our wire, engaging with the local population, and putting ourselves out there as their ultimate line of defense against those who wish them (and us) harm.  And ultimately, the longer we hide behind our walls, the less we will own the ground and the people we hope to secure and thus the less secure we all will become.

For my fellow cowboys of aviation and everyone else who routinely engages in inherently risky recreational activities, there is a lot to be gained and understood from currency and skill development.  The less we push ourselves and the more we hide behind our personal fears and insecurities, the more dangerous our pursuits become.  The skills we need to thrive in our environments are inherently perishable and need constant retooling and refinement to be at their peak at the moments when we most desperately need them.  It is for this reason that has caused me great concern recently as the Parachute Team at West Point has been grounded for effectively five months before returning to the air just a few days ago.  While I would have liked to make the point to the powers that be over at the Academy about the increased level of risk they are subjecting their cadets to, I know that given the nature and structure of that institution that my calls would fall on deaf ears and my efforts would ultimately be a waste of time.  For my fellow BASE jumpers out there, I am still amazed at all the pictures and videos I see appearing of Facebook and other sites every week.  You guys are truly going hard and living your lives to the fullest and I can’t wait to get back at it in a couple months and push the limits of our skills and our creativity with as many of you as I can.  Just remember that while currency is valuable, overconfidence can always kill you.  Please take care and play safe out there…

A natural part of living this life to the fullest and risking everything for the pursuit of evolving to another level of human experience is losing friends and possibly even your own life along the way.  I could give a rats ass about numbers and statistics in either jumping or war, but on some quiet nights here in bumfuck nowhere I still find myself wondering how many of us will still be left and active in this game in a few years, how many will be either dead or broken, and how many I will still be able to share a beer, a story, or an exit point with at some undisclosed location somewhere on planet Earth.  With every passing former mate, I am reminded of just how fragile and awesome this existence is and how much we have to gain from going as hard as we can as long as our lives may take us and never trying to hide behind our false illusions of security.  We cram more living into a few short years than many people can even imagine in their entire lifetimes and I am proud to say that I am a part of such a community of human beings.  It is within people like us that I find true hope for the future and the world we will pass on to our children…

For all those we have lost in the past year, I wish you Godspeed in the world ahead and plenty of long and epic flights.  Your lives may be short, but damn were they interesting and there is a lot the rest of the world can still learn from you about living and experiencing their dreams.  For everyone else, please take care of yourselves and while I would never expect any of you to slow down, at least take all the necessary precautions and fully respect the risks you are taking.  There aren’t enough of us in this world and it royally sucks every time that number grows smaller…

Fly Free, Pete.  It was awesome meeting you, I wish we could have gotten a few jumps in, but I will definitely be going hard with the ATL/Alabama crew in your honor whenever I make it back for another brief stay at wonderful Fort Bang Bang.   My thoughts go out to locals over there and everyone in our community.  Keep living the dream brothers and sisters…



4 SEP 2011, 2200 AST, Orgun-E, Paktika, Afghanistan


About briangdonnelly

I'm pretty much a random traveler and free thinker. Right now I live and work with the Army in North Carolina. I grew up in Missouri but am from the northeast US and have traveled a lot with the Army and life in general so I can't say I really have a "home" except where I chose to catch a few hours or rack each day. Overall, life is pretty awesome and I'm looking forward to changing the world. Hit me up if you care... Peace, Brian
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