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  • Writer's pictureAlex

Unraveling the Peter Pan archetype within the BASE jumping community.

Updated: Jul 22, 2023

Peter Pan; is a magical kid who can fly and doesn’t want to grow up. Sounds familiar?

In my view, no story resonates more profoundly with the BASE jump community than this one. Of course, Peter Pan's ability to fly connects directly with what we do, but the parallels extend far beyond the surface.

I believe the modern lifestyle has induced a meaning crisis, motivating many of us to seek purpose, achievements, and human connections. Using flying as a medium to attain something that is out of reach while living within the boundaries of the regular modern lifestyle. Flying is arguably one of the oldest dreams of mankind, present in the oldest myths and legends we can remember, and it appears in everyone’s nightly dreams. However, actual human flying is a really recent event in history and remains one of the last frontiers of exploration that undoubtedly attracts a certain personality type. Flying, without being aware of it from the beginning, can serve as a modern initiation ritual and a journey of self-discovery and growth for the person choosing to respond to the calling.

Therefore, it comes as no surprise that ancient myths and stories anticipated certain aspects of the flying experience, given its inherent risk and exploratory nature, which lies at the core of the human experience.

Back to Peter Pan, as you probably already know, Peter Pan is the leader of the Lost Boys, and resides in Neverland. These orphans live under Peter Pan's guidance a playful existence enjoying games, adventures, and perpetual childhood in their hideout.

I can’t help but imagine Lauterbrunnen in Switzerland, the world capital of BASE jumping and one of the most beautiful places on earth, as Neverland, the magical playground for the Lost Boys to live an existence detached from responsibilities.

The Lost Boys being orphans, symbolizes the lack of guidance from the older generation, often literally, due to a dysfunctional relationship with the father or the education system for example, as well as the rupture with society and culture, in which most people are doing jobs that no one really cares about, expect to make an income, leading to a dull materialistic lifestyle without any meaningful purpose.

In this context who wouldn’t want to fly in a magical playground?

Now and then, a Peter Pan personality type emerges; more dedicated than the rest of the Lost Boys to fly and to not grow up, meaning to break free from imposed conventions, more willing to take risks, more irresponsible, and more joyful. With this profile, it's no wonder we often say that the best ones leave first, such a carefree loving, and playful approach to BASE jumping, even more, wingsuit BASE jumping can create an extremely dangerous dynamic in which not many embodied Peter Pan can survive.

What about Captain Hook?

Captain Hook was once a child and I believe he knew how to fly. But for some reason, he grew up and lost a hand during an encounter with Peter Pan. In the same line of thoughts, it is easy to imagine this symbolizes a serious traumatic event, especially keeping in mind that Captain Hook is terrified by a crocodile having a clock in his belly which undoubtedly represent death. In my theory, the Captain Hook archetype is well aware of death and the consequences of a carefree approach to flying and now want to stop Peter Pan to avoid a disaster. By definition, he will never manage to influence Peter Pan because if he would succeed in it, the Peter Pan archetype would dissolve into something completely different. I assume this often manifests in reality through a nervous breakdown, a sudden cessation of jumping, or some irrational fears at the exit.

Who can save Peter Pan?

Tinker Bell, the little fairy, often helps Peter Pan in his adventures, using her magical abilities to aid him and the Lost Boys in various situations. Their friendship highlights the magical and fantastical nature of the story and Tinker Bell cares deeply for Peter; she is willing to go to great lengths to protect and support him but she will only attach Peter Pan to his fantasy within Neverland.

On another hand, Wendy is real and she embodies a sense of maturity and responsibility. Peter invites her to Neverland as a “mother” for the Lost Boys, providing them with a presence they never had, in other words, using Love to reconnect them with the real world.

The relationship between Peter and Wendy is one of the most powerful themes of the story, exploring the contrast between Peter’s desire to remain forever a child and Wendy’s understanding of the importance of growing up not only for the sake of growing up only but to take on responsibilities and become parents themselves.

If someone can save Peter Pan, it is indeed Wendy, and this has been manifested in real life several times around

me. I've witnessed BASE jumpers radically changing their high-risk approach to a more sustainable way of jumping by finding their "Wendy."

Last summer, as I was obsessing about these ideas, I found myself going to altitud for a skydive and saw a "Lost Boys" stickers on a friend's helmet about a recently formed skydiving team that I didn't knew about; I obviously didn’t give any meaning to this besides being confounded by the power of stories, how they ripple through reality and spread in culture in layers that the authors themselves could have never imagined.

And to give actionable purpose to this story which is much more than children's entertainment, the question we should ask ourselves is which archetype represents us the most and more importantly if you are a BASE jumper going down the path of more and more risky jumps; should you be saved from yourself?

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