Look, Ma, I’ m Flying!
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I could say that today’s piece is about a project. It is. It’s also about a documentary. That too. In some ways, it’s about a movement, of sorts. All well and good.
But what most attracted me to this organization?
I’ll admit it: energy and attitude. Lord, and how.
The organization is The Bird’s Eye View Project.
Ryan Parrott is a former US Navy SEAL, a veteran of three combat tours to Iraq, and survivor of a devastating IED blast in 2005.
And “Birdman,” as he’s called, has a mission: to use “extreme sports to connect people to the extreme needs of veterans and first-responders,” thereby helping “veterans and first-responders heal and lead fulfilling and productive lives.”
And when this man says extreme, he means it. Jumping off cliffs. Big cliffs. Snowboarding down mountains. Big mountains. As best as I can tell, his goal is eventually to do both at the same time. Big-ly.
And why? To promote fundraising for a variety of smaller charities that are committed to helping veterans and first-responders. His logic is straightforward: many groups are doing big things for veterans and first-responders, but with somewhat of a small voice. By pushing himself to extremes that play big, he can attract attention for them, through himself and not for himself.
He’s set up a project that is sort of like pay-per-view: by making donations that get distributed to the charities, you get a front-row cyber-seat to the ongoing documentary that follows Parrott’s efforts at training and then performing stunts that are guaranteed to leave you shaking your head, smiling, and, well, glad it’s him and not you.
Talk about a man putting all his excess energy to good use. The film on the website didn’t even make four minutes, and I was ready to take a breather.
Through the years I’ve had the honor of working with several former members of Special Operations forces. To a man, each has had an energy and an internal fire that has impressed me, challenged me, even, at times, exhausted me. They have seen War up close and personal. Their energy has been both their salvation and their curse. Where does one put all that energy after a career such as that?
Well, Birdman apparently has decided that he’s going to answer that question on a big stage, in a big way, for a big purpose. But he does so, of course, because he knows that the “small” things in life, the quiet things such as perseverance and courage and faithfulness are ultimately what make life worthwhile.
Still, a few steps off a cliff do get the old blood flowing in the morning. So much for coffee.
Until tomorrow, be well,