Timm's Utne Review-July/August 98

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The Joy of Danger by Sebastian Junger, July-August 1998, pp. 59-63.

Why I found this article thought provoking.

Timm Ringhofer

This article initially intrigued me because of its title. The obvious contradiction in the terms joy and danger is an excellent way to grab the readers interest, and that is what it did to me.

The basic thrust of the article is how the author describes the time he spent in Sarajevo covering the civil war in 1993. The author completes the article relating others stories of experiencing the joy of danger in their everyday life and the possible physiological reason why some people need these type of experiences.

The author describes how he went to Bosnia in 1993 wanting to see the war and how he wanted to be changed by this experience. He was changed by the fact that he now feels like his everyday life is so boring and mundane without the fear that someone might be trying to kill him just because he was there. There is no stress level crossing the street in most areas in America, but to cross the street in Sarajevo was an act of bravery and gave the writer an adrenaline rush. Sniper fire, trench warfare, and mortar fire are everyday occurrences in Sarajevo and the surrounding countryside. Therefore, one must be cognizant of every detail, such as stopping and talking to someone on the street and if that is safe, that is going on around them. The body and mind must be on constant alert, a constant adrenaline high. When he left Sarajevo, he felt guilty that he had the ability to leave the war and just get away. He arrived at Split, which is on the coast, and related that he felt bored being able to sit and order lunch without having to worry about all the things he worried about in Sarajevo.

I think a lot of people feel that they need something to get their adrenaline going: basketball, video games, card games, etc. However, going to a war to get a rush I think is a little extreme. Also, to say that life is boring after leaving a war is a little bizarre in my estimation. I think most people cannot live at a constant state of alertness before they would break down. Everyone needs to get away for a while.

The article also relates the story of a firefighter in Brooklyn. He was a soldier in Vietnam, and when he returned to the states, he found life to be very boring and unfulfilling because there was no danger. Being a firefighter gave him that adrenaline rush that he needed on occasion to feel fulfilled and worthwhile.

This article made me evaluate whether my life is boring because I dont have a dangerous situation on a regular basis. The answer I believe is no. I would love to go bungy jumping because of my fear of heights and falling from those heights. However, I am quite happy with my life of not too dangerous situations. To go out and look for this kind of action seems a little peculiar. Granted, some people need this rush but not me, thanks.

-- Anonymous, January 13, 1999

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