As I rushed through the Cancun airport, the words jumped out at me and caused me to pause, “Smoking Kills,” the packages screamed. Despite the brilliant marketing (not!), travelers were pulling them off the shelves. Similar packages nearby with images of dead rats and crying children also did not deter.
At that moment my kids and I chuckled at the many who were determined to pay good money to “kill” themselves. And, during our four-hour journey home it led to an in depth discussion on the plane as, a few days later, they were both going skydiving together.
“Why do we do things that we know will kill us or at least increase the possibility of it?” I asked my 18 and 20 year-old kids.
“Everything is on a scale of degrees. Driving a car is risky and so is flying on this airplane right now,” Carolyn said.
“But, why jump OUT of a plane?” I asked.
“Why not?” Nate said. “I don’t want to live foolishly but I also don’t want to live gripped in the fear of death.”
I was not completely satisfied with that answer at the time but am happy to report that they both survived even though they said they couldn’t breath and were “terrified” during the free fall. I, of course, was terrified that something could go wrong – parachute not open, crash to the ground breaking neck or back leading to paralyzation, get tangled with instructor or worse, each other, on the way down. Every scenario clouded my mind.
I then remembered the other message I noticed in that duty free shop. It read: “Smoking seriously harms you and others around you.”
Smoking, jumping out of airplanes, climbing ladders in your 80’s, everything you do affects those around you. When you fall, injure yourself, or ultimately kill yourself, you are not the only one who suffers.