I’ve been reflecting on “extreme” sports enthusiasts lately, on the apparent paradox our culture practices when we ridicule folks who accidentally perish while getting too close to a river or a cliff, but we celebrate those who take on risk regularly to push the envelope of what is possible. The difference between the two acts, I think, is preparedness. When Danny Macaskill hops rides a cable between two trains, it’s difficult to imagine (but we have a sense of) how many hours, months, probably YEARS he’s been on that bike. So for him, it’s not crazy at all. If I tried that, I think I’d likely die… because I have zero preparation.
One thing I love about guiding is how a good guide can help us leap from “zero preparedness” to “really well prepared” almost instantly. The average Joe or Jane should not go canyoneering or rock climbing tomorrow on his/her own tomorrow… but when they hire a guide, it’s suddenly a prudent decision, and it opens up huge possibilities for them. It’s not a perfect analogy, of course… If I hired Mr. Macaskill, it’s not like I could pull off ten-foot drops off burnt out warehouses. But I bet he’d be able to get me 100 times closer than I am right now.