“It’s ironic how you feel most alive when your heart skips a few beats.” And, mark my words…my experience skydiving was full of skipped heart beats.
It has always been on the bucket list to jump out of a perfectly running plane. “But why Jackie?” The truth is that I have faced head-on everything that I have ever questioned the experience to be. Trust me I enjoy hearing others’ stories of their experiences, but I much rather relate by having shared a similar experience, a similar emotion. Plus now on my next flight I won’t have to wonder what it would feel like to jump…now I’ll know.
To be honest I wasn’t even at the location when my heart fluttered with butterflies, my heart was racing and my face felt flush. Seriously, the longest 40 minute car ride to a location. There was no hesitation in being the first to pay, so that I wouldn’t chicken out as I watched colorful parachutes get bigger and bigger as they floated toward the ground. Was I really going to do it?!
Hundred mile winds just stepping on the plane, sweating from what I didn’t know to be fear or the temperature (and at that point who cares what you look like, death is an option), a $300 investment in and already strapped to my tandem partner…no going back. The plane ride seemed so fast to get up to 18k feet…maybe because I was hoping to have time to let common sense remind me that humans weren’t meant to fly, birds were and I hate birds. I recall the camera man mouthing “halfway there” at one point when we were already a decent altitude above the clouds (side note: supposedly it’s rare that at those altitudes there are clouds to skydive through, and is supposed to be a good sign and good luck for skydivers…or maybe the instructor was saying that because terror was all over my face).
“Alright Jackie scoot down the rail and squat at the door and on the count of three push off…we’re doing this!.” Door opens rush of wind…thousand thoughts a mili-second “am I sure, this is freaking nuts, you got this, don’t chicken out….” He yells, “one..two….” Yeah I don’t think he ever said three and there I was cannaballing into pillow-like clouds. All thoughts of fear, gone (left in the plane) I felt liberated…like a bird. I remember laughing almost the whole time in the thought that I did it! I conquered the one thing that I have always wanted to do but kept postponing for “the right moment.” My arms out, I glide. I felt like I was up there forever, looking all around taking it all in. Looking down 10k, 9k, 8k feet still all the quadrants of Tecumseh lay below me. “I feel like a bird, can we spin…”the instructor hands me the controls….EEKK! Evidently I am not a good listener at 8k, or so, feet because when he said grab with an open palm it took a solid 3 different attempts before I mastered how to appropriately navigate myself through the air. Luckily, I’m a quick learner– we made it down. By the way, the spinning part was not a good idea. Check mark on my bucket list, and it was everything I hoped it would be.
Lesson from this adventure: This experience, along with many others that I will eventually share, has solidified that there is never the “right/perfect moment.” We create those expectations in our heads to give us deadlines, give us a timeframe to work with. Things happen when we decide that the time is now. I have never been a science person (whatever side of the brain that is, that’s not the side that works for me), but the person who says all objects in motion stay in motion was on to something. It has only been when I have pushed myself out of my comfort zone that I had built to momentum to do more, believe more. Fearing the unknown is easy, conquering the unknown is courage.