Last Friday afternoon, I jumped out of a tiny plane with a man strapped to my back.
Skydiving has been on the top of my 101 list forever. I’ve been contemplating it since my 30th birthday, but for one reason or another, it never came to fruition. But I can now say I have faced one of my biggest fears and kicked its butt.
When I bought the Groupon for it, I will admit I kind of had an internal freakout about this. I thought, “CRAP. WHAT HAVE I DONE?!” but the closer it got to the day, the calmer I was about it. Even when we had to reschedule it due to a tornado destroying their airplane hangar, I joked about it being an ominous sign. But in truth, I considered it a small hiccup in the big picture.
While the company we purchased our jump from was pretty unprofessional in a multitude of ways, the jump itself could not have been more perfect. My partner could not have been better for me. He was older and patient and exuded confidence. My friend, who had been skydiving before, had a loose cannon of a partner. I’m not sure what else to expect when his name was “Ditch”. But my friend looked at me and said “it’s like you’re jumping with your grandfather and I’ve got your assy brother!” So true.
G’pa Jay introduced himself to me and asked what I did for a living. When I said librarian, he sort of involuntarily chuckled and I thought to myself, “I wonder how many librarians he has wanting to skydive”.
There was a calmness about him that I really dug. He was thorough with his instructions without inducing panic in me. As a librarian, my instinct is to research the hell out of something. But I intentionally did no research on this one. I thought if I had too much information that I would start considering the scenarios and figuring my odds. Instead, I just trusted my friend who had all the confidence in me that I could do it. And Jay helped to reaffirm that.
It wasn’t until I was on the plane and strapped to Jay that I started to let the fear get to me. There were two men jumping accelerated free fall before me, and I made sure to turn my head away from them as they hopped out so as not to add to my butterflies. And then it was my turn.
We inched out to the ledge, let our feet dangle off and then Jay dropped my right shoulder and we were falling at crazy speeds. The pressure was so intense that your ears plug quickly and if I was screaming, I surely didn’t hear it. For about thirty to forty-five seconds of my life, I was plummeting back to the ground with nothing to slow me down.
And then Jay pulled the cord and our parachute opened. The first words out of my mouth were “HOLY SH–!” The free fall was pretty intense and terrifying, but suddenly, I was floating above everything and what an AMAZING experience that was. Tranquil. I’m not sure I have a better word for it than that.
As we were floating around, Jay said to me “You did it! What are you going to do next?” And I cannot express to you the power of that question in my head. For me, it was always about facing a fear and meeting it head on. But when Jay asked me that, I thought this is just the beginning, isn’t it? It wasn’t about just saying “oh I’ve been skydiving”, it was about opening a brand new world of everything. I may come off confident in a lot of ways, but like everyone I’ve got my timid side. And jumping out of that plane shattered a lot of that for me.
At the end, I thanked my friend for going with me and he said “no problem – let me know what’s next”. Even he could see that the jump changed something in me. I’m not sure what is coming up first, but I’ve got a myriad of possibilities now.