When 43 year old Felix Baumgartner, an Austrian parachutist and daredevil made the highest and fastest jump in history by launching himself into the air from an altitude of 128100 feet, his comment on becoming the world’s first human to break the sound barrier was, “It’s all about coming home.”
What drives people to purposely launch themselves headfirst into a situation that has no undo button? A territory of danger so profound that you cannot go back once you’ve taken the plunge? Why would anyone risk their life unnecessarily anyway? If confronted with an extreme situation you have discovered heat coursing through your body and a rush suddenly springing you up to alertness, you know what I’m talking about.
Just ask an adrenaline junkie.
An adrenaline junkie is a person who is addicted to the thrill of the high produced by the hormone adrenaline in the body. Such a person enjoys taking risks and facing situations stretching the body’s emergency mechanism to its limits. Which means that a person addicted to the rush of this drug-like hormone will frequently involve himself in extreme circumstances. If you know a person addicted to bike racing on the city’s most crowded roads in rush hours, congratulations. You’ve met the type.
As soon as the hormone is pumped into the bloodstream, the person feels excited and enjoys a pleasurable sensation as the heat runs all through the body. Increased heart rate, faster rate of breathing and increased energy production result in the person feeling euphoric, ready to take on challenges and, trust this, alive. The feeling can last upto hours. Similar to the pleasure induced by the common drugs corrupting the society, adrenaline is a natural substance produced in the body that brings the blood up to a boil.
Sparing the medical jargon, adrenaline is a hormone responsible for the so-called fight-and-flight mechanism of the body. When faced with a life-threatening situation, the adrenaline glands sitting on top of our kidneys pump it into the bloodstream. This increases the heart rate and breathing rate, for the purpose of helping in running or fighting the threat. This is the same kind of defense mechanism that makes animals such as the puffer fish suddenly transform from a little fish to a lethal one with pointed spines. Survival in jeopardy is the basic idea. Read the complete mechanism here: http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-adrenaline.htm
If you are aware about people’s inclination towards the term ‘extreme sports’, you’re probably not a stranger to the adrenaline junkie. Such people involve themselves in sports apart from the typical: barefoot water skiing, cliff jumping, free-diving, gliding, bungee jumping, mountain biking and simply racing through rushed lanes at a high speed are just some of the adrenaline-packed activities. This makes me come back to Felix Baumgartner, who is a professional parachutist and oh, a daredevil. Not just sports, people with a craving for this high are likely to opt for careers that present a generous amount of risk. Consider fire fighting, police work, the military and perhaps crime journalism too. Jobs that demand extreme involvement, provide last-minute deadlines and present challenges way over the top are attractive to the adrenaline junkie. Horror and suspense movies are the easiest medium to get a minor thrill, though.
Like all the notorious drugs, adrenaline addiction has its evils. The junkie might simply fill his life with drama or crises for the sake of his craving and purposefully create such situations. In chronic cases he might start picking up fights or arguments simply for the rush. Junkies become reckless in their daily lives, and may begin putting themselves and others at risk. Of course, if you think this way, half of the population driving on Delhi’s roads appears adrenaline driven. For a person far gone, the adrenaline rush obtained from real, daily drama is as good as extreme sports. At this point the boundaries between daily life and challenging sports may start to blur. The social life of such a person may suffer because friends and family may struggle to keep up with his edgy lifestyle. That said, if you know where to draw the line, a drug that gives a euphoric high and is absolutely natural is certainly not a bad idea.
In India, there is no trouble in satisfying your adrenaline drive. The mountains, the seas and the jungles are sufficient platforms for the thrill. However, allow me to confess that for a woman in Delhi stepping out of home each day and coming back in the evening safe and sound is war enough.
Archana Sardana deserves a special mention here. She is an Indian skydiver, BASE jumper, mountaineer and deep sea diver. If you have an itch for the ditch too, the Bangalore Mountaineering Club organizes various adventures with over 40,000 participants. Visit http://www.bmcindia.org/
Similarly, Aquaterra is the only Indian company to be rated twice in a row as best adventure travel outfitters in the world. Watch their videos at http://www.youtube.com/aquatera
For adventure planning and consultation, visit http://www.xtremeways.com/
And the next time you feel the heat coursing through your veins, relax. What’s a crisis for some people is routine for others.
[this is a guest post by Sana Fatma. A BHMS student, staying in delhi, and like the characters in her writings, she too tries to find happiness in the simpler things in life.]
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