Two weeks ago, I lost another friend.
It was another tragic accident. This time wingsuit flying here in Switzerland. And this time we lost three experienced, well-known BASE jumpers one after another, in a day that shocked and shook the extreme sports community, leaving us all breathless.
As the initial shock faded, though, something beautiful happened.
Instead of a funeral for our friend here in the valley, his wife organized a much more fitting tribute.
Instead of black dresses and sad speeches, instead of memorials and funerals, the community came together last Monday to take flight in memory of Dan.
Dozens of people from dozens of countries descended on our little valley to jump off the cliffs and out of helicopters, to run down hills and take flight on a paraglider, to speed through the air on speed wings.
And throughout the world, friends who couldn’t make it celebrated Dan’s life by taking their own flights.
Personally, it was the best reason I could think of to finally kick my possible fear of heights to the curb and take a paraglider flight of my own (which was just about as wonderful and terrifying as I’d imagined).
And so we all spent a Monday flying through the air, facing our fears, feeling the exhilaration of being hundreds of meters above the valley floor—in tribute to our caring, generous, easy-going, funny, extreme friend. A person who, by living life fully every moment, by never letting fear or convention dictate his life choices, by refusing to compromise his joy, inspired so many.
He made us braver while he was with us—and he’s still making us braver today.
So amidst the quiet goodbyes and fervent “we’ll miss you”s, we also whisper thank you.
Thank you for the courage. Thank you for the joy.