I had intended on posting something else today, but as is often the case life has other ideas.
You don’t need to search very far to find a sad story but this last weekend a sad story found the GORUCK community. At around 0635 on Saturday May 17th during the Syracuse GORUCK Challenge a vehicle lost control and hit the current team lead – Jeff Proietti – who was tended to but pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.
This tragedy was not something that could have been easily foreseen, and therefore was not easily prevented. Jeff had observed the vehicle and warned the class of its approach, outstanding team leadership and situational awareness at a time (almost 10 hrs in) when most people have the 1000yd stare. The conditions were bright and clear, and flags were flying high. Jeff Proietti’s obituary tells the story of the man better than I could and should. I didn’t know him directly. But it does highlight very clearly that this happened while he was doing what he loved with the community he thrived in.
“Death is more universal than life; everyone dies but not everyone lives.” – A.Sachs
I want to dwell on that for a moment. There are many interpretations of that quote, but what I take away from it is this. It is important that you spend your life doing the things you love, with the people you love, otherwise you fail to truly live.
As part of a few communities where a Death Waiver is standard procedure,the risks of fatal injuries are minimal but still very real. Immediate reaction for some might be to rethink participation in events that hold such risk, but at what cost?
I know for myself that my general verve and happiness would take a nose dive if my leisure time became sedentary and risk free. There is something hugely meditative to me about moving distance under heavy weight, about taking the body to a point of pain and discomfort, and about forging relationships within a team or community (specifically for me via GORUCK and Death Race), that provides me the mental release and tools to live the remainder of my life in contentment. Its a pressure valve of sorts, but also a motivator and an endless sense of confidence and vitality.
It is for that reason that I will continue to pursue these events, and will do so in honor of a fallen brother.
I will leave with the words of author Osho:
“A man who is afraid of death will be afraid of life also, because life brings death. If you are afraid of the enemy and you close your door, the friend will also be prohibited.”
Don’t be afraid of life. Rest in peace Jeff.
p.s. If you want to help support Jeff’s surviving wife and children, you can donate to the memorial fund here.