The Benefits of Looking Stupid

PARKOUR!

I look stupid a lot. I’ve gotten used to it, I’ve realized that I’ll never be cool. I’ve come to grips with that reality and I’m okay with it. After all, it’s really hard to look cool when I’m:

>> doing 200 squats in the kitchen

>> turning purple while doing pushups

>> making faces of agony while running a marathon

So I’ve accepted it and moved on. In fact, I’ve been sure that there are lots of other things that I can look stupid doing. Even doing stuff that sounds as cool as skydiving, I can probably find a way to look stupid. Even skydiving you might ask? Especially skydiving.

***

At the WDS Skydive adventure a few weeks back, I was in the very last group to jump. Somehow I got paired up with Steve Kamb. Both Steve and I have a similar type of yes policy, where I try to say yes to opportunites when they’re presented because you never know when you’ll get another shot at them. So, needless to say, when they asked if anyone wanted to go up to 18,000 feet, we jumped at the chance.

Unfortunately, nobody on the plane but me and Steve knew that we were going all the way to 18,000 feet until we were on the plane, including our jump instructors. Maybe it was the fatigue of already having 40 people jump, but when you realize that your tandem instructor didn’t know what altitude you were going to jump from until the last minute, you have a momentary panick attack. Thankfully, all of our jumpers had been jumping forever, so it wasn’t too big of an adjustment for them.

At 13,000 feet, we dropped a bunch of people off (literally) and kept on climbing. At that elevation we had to strap on oxygen masks so we could breathe and not pass out from the thinner air.

There is not a weirder feeling I’ve ever experienced than watching someone fall out of a moving plane. One second they’re in the plane, and the next they’re out of sight. Gone.

As much as I wanted to kick Steve out of the airplane, I was having a video shot, so I had to go first. We scooted to the edge of the plane, stuck our feet over the edge, yelled PARKOUR and we dropped.

Skydiving is unique because unlike other times when you fall, you don’t feel your stomach drop. You’re so high up and you fall so fast while skydiving that you don’t realize you’re falling and you don’t get the same feeling in your stomach that you do when you’re dropping on a roller coaster or when you’re bungee jumping.

So we’re falling and it feels like I’ve stuck my head out of a car moving 150mph. All of a sudden, I feel my goggles slipping. They start working their way up my face, and the next thing I know, they’re flying off my head. I’d explain more, but the photos describe it much better than I could ever hope to with just words.

Hm...What's Going On Here?

Ah. Fixed It.

THIS IS SO MUCH FUN

Oops, Gotta Fix 'Em Again

Here We Go...

Think I Got It...

Dang it!

Where Did My Goggles Go?

So my goggles are off, and I’m looking at the camera trying to look cool and enjoy the fall down, but it’s really really hard to make your face look normal when you’re falling so fast and the wind is doing it’s best to distort every expression you make. So don’t try to make faces, because the wind will only make you look stupid.

Exhibit A

My tandem instructor tried to put my goggles back on my face but he couldn’t actually see where my face was, so he was just holding them on the section of my face where my forehead meets my eyebrows meets my eye socket.

So we finally got the goggles back on my face, but never were able to actually tighten them up, so for the rest of my free fall, I split my time between trying to make sure I got a good shot for the camera and trying to fight my goggles so that they would stay on. The goggles are back on my face, but never actually tightened up so for the rest of my free fall I’m splitting time between trying to make sure I get a good shot for the camera and not trying to fight my goggles to stay on. Neither of them really happened.

So while everyone else has sweet photos of them skydiving, I get to look like an idiot.

And…I’m okay with that…

***

Anytime you try to do something impossible, you’re going to look a little stupid.

One of my good friends has a dream to buy a boat and sail around the world for a few years. After taking into account his current situation, he realized his current path wasn’t on track to let him do that. So, he sat down with his wife and together they’ve been selling a lot of their stuff and moving into an apartment where they’re going to live and save up for the boat over the next few years while working on their fledging business.

Half of their friends think they’re nuts. The other half think they’re awesome. I think they’re awesome. But, to a lot of people, it seems stupid. Trying to sell a house in a down economy and trying to live on a boat seems ridiculous when there’s all sorts of nice land to live on where you don’t have to worry about little things like drowning. Fortunately, it doesn’t really matter what other people think because everyone gets to live only one life, their own.

Whether or not they think it’s stupid is their deal. If they don’t want to do something, they don’t have to, but it shouldn’t affect how you go about your life. If someone wants to think something is stupid, let them go ahead and think it’s stupid. Then go do it if it’s something you want to do.

Occasionally, they’ll bring up valid fears or concerns, but most often, the people who say how stupid things are, often don’t have interesting alternatives to your stupid ideas. Most will simply give you the textbook “safe” answers if you ask them what they want to do. And, there’s nothing wrong with those answers, if it’s truly what they want to do. But, if they’re just bouncing answers back towards you…that’s another issue.

Big risks reap big rewards.

Not being afraid to sell your stuff and buy a boat , if that’s what you really want to do, might seem stupid to some people. But, if you actually do it, you get to sail around the world and wake up in a different place everyday with a million dollar view. Not too shabby. I can vouch personally, that not being afraid to look stupid, even if it means you’ll fail spectacularly sometimes, lets you do a whole heap of things that you once swore were impossible.

It’s your life. Feel free to look stupid. You just might have some fun or do something impossible.

In the spirit of things, you can browse the full gallery of me looking stupid while plummeting to my death on flickr. Also, enjoy the video (me looking stupid, put to music)

Comments

  1. sue says

    That story rocks, and really gave me a chuckle. I just did 150 squats (among other things) yesterday in my backyard and I think my neighbors are whispering about me again. Cheer’s to doing something impossible!

  2. says

    This post is as awesome as it is funny. The pics of you losing your glasses (and the accompanying captions) had me literally laughing out loud, as did the part about kicking Steve out of the plane.

    Hysterical, cool, fun. You’re the man Joel!

    – Josh

  3. says

    Awesome post Joel! It’s true that many times the fear of looking stupid or foolish holds people back from letting go and experiencing great things. Let’s all get out there and look stupid together. Great series of photos and loved the video. Cheers!

  4. says

    I’ve got this down cold, dude. But my wife says I still manage to push the envelope and find new ground to gain every single day. I’m a rock star of stupidity…and having a great time, too!

  5. says

    “…most often, the people who say how stupid things are, often don’t have interesting alternatives to your stupid ideas.”

    TRUTH.

    What a thoroughly entertaining read. Ü

  6. Don Odom says

    The willingness to look stupid is directly in proportion to the amount of fun to be had! Joel you rock!

  7. says

    Favorite Line of the Whole Post: “Fortunately, it doesn’t really matter what other people think because everyone gets to live only one life, their own.”

    And it is a funny thing with looking stupid. I was expecting with a title like that to come and find you looking much stupider (errr….that probably sounds much harsher than I mean it! ;) )

    So often we project how we feel onto what we think other people will feel. But in reality, the only thing I thought about was “Oh my god, if he hits a bug with no goggles on will the bug end up in his eyeball socket?!”

    • says

      I’ll do my best to look stupider next time :) Haha.

      And I believe, if I hit a bug at that speed, it would probably end up at the back of my head. Probably not a good situation for me, but it’s even worse for the bug :).

  8. says

    The jump looked awesome brah, don’t even sweat how you look. It’s better to look stupid doing the impossible than look cool doing nothing.

    Props to you for the unedited Kanye West songs too. Great selections for the video.

    • says

      Kanye’s legit. And I totally agree. Better to look stupid doing the impossible than look cool doing nothing. (although it’s pretty hard to look cool if you’re not doing anything)

  9. says

    Best laugh of my day :D Thanks Joel! For the record, I looked even stupider when I jumped out of a plane in Atlanta in 2001 (or was it 2002?).

    I was told to NOT open my mouth and as we jumped from 14000 ft, I yelled and for the rest of the trip down, I could.not.shut.my.mouth.

    No really. Wasn’t even screaming anymore but the wind was SO strong I cldn’t close my mouth and look like a drunk fish in my video. Great song though – free falling.

    Off to share this post on my FB biz page to inspire more people to get stupid.

    Hugs n Sparkles!
    Tia

  10. says

    LOL. Just watched your skydive vid. I haven’t seen mine yet, but I’m assuming I’ll have the same stunned fish look on my face.. hilarious. Awesome work Joel!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] The Benefits of Looking Stupid “Anytime you try to do something impossible, you’re going to look a little stupid…. Fortunately, it doesn’t really matter what other people think because everyone gets to live only one life, their own.” ~Joel Runyon at Blog of Impossible Things [...]

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