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Matthias Giraud is one of the world’s leading experts on personal risk. As a professional BASE jumper, ski mountaineer, and ski-BASE jumper who has jumped the renowned Alps trilogy — Eiger, Matterhorn, and Mont Blanc — his job is primarily staying alive. He does so by managing risk — aggressively.

Considering life and death is nothing new for you. You throw yourself off cliffs for a living. How is your calculus changing right now?

The difference in the risk of this moment is the meaning of it. What is the meaning of the risk we take? The reason I jump off a cliff is that it is meaningful for me. It’s something to dedicate my life to. A disease, however, is not fulfilling or meaningful. Right now I’m not taking risks. I’m not ski-BASE jumping because if I crash it’s a huge hindrance for the medical establishment.

You’re so practical when it comes to these things. It’s interesting to hear someone talk about existential threats in practical terms.

I had this conversation with a friend yesterday. We’re talking about his parents, who are near the age of my parents, 81 and 74. And he said, ‘You know I don’t want to lose my parents, but they’ve had a good life and they’re fulfilled. I would be able to accept it because death is coming for all of us.’ It’s foolish to not think about our expiration date. We have to think that this shit is going to end. How do we live intentionally in the meantime? The more you live intentionally the more you discover aspects of this existence. 

This is an incredible time of awareness and immersion. The more fucked-up something is, the more clarity you get out of it. It’s a necessary moment. The clarity is so hard to achieve.  There’s a reason I jump off cliffs. It’s force-fed clarity. Half the work is done for us. It’s a huge opportunity. It’s exposing the cracks in everything — our lives, our economy, our leaders. While it’s a terrible situation, it’s an opportunity to expose all the cracks so we can move on and build a stronger foundation.