I haven’t been posting much lately. My life has been a bit hectic with a pretty massive career change, which you can read about in my last post, but, on top of that, I’ve admittedly lost my discipline when it comes to writing, filming and uploading.
There is, though, something I wanted to share. I recently had the time of my life. My wife and I went skydiving!
That’s right, skydiving. Haley and I jumped out of a perfectly good airplane for fun. And it was life-changing.
The back story…
I’ve always been a bit of an adrenaline junkie. I swung on the Sky Swing at age 5. I bungee jumped for the first time at age 12. I love roller coasters and the scariest theme park rides. I used to race a very fast car (which exploded when it got hit by a tractor-trailer truck). Skydiving was next on my list, and I wanted to check it off before I hit 30.
It didn’t look like I was going to hit my mark, but Haley decided to surprise me with it as an early Father’s Day gift. Unfortunately, weather delays ruined the surprise (I guessed it well before we actually went), but the excitement replaced the surprise.
In the weeks of rescheduling that lead up to the experience, I was beyond excited. Now…I’m not a very expressive person, so it didn’t show to my wife, but I really was. I swear it.
Then came the day of the jump. I was oddly calm, though everyone I’ve spoken to about skydiving said they had trouble sleeping the night before and filled with fear up until the point where they flew out of the plane.
I didn’t experience that.
I slept like a baby (a 6-month old that sleeps through the night, not a newborn) the night before. I woke up with a state of peace, knowing that I was happy about everything in my life.
I enjoyed time with my son before we took him to the babysitter. I told him that I loved him and gave him a kiss, then we hit the road.
Two and a half hours later, we sat down for a meal at a Subway (one of the best Subways I’ve ever been to), then we parked the car at the pickup site.
We watched several dots fall out the sky while we were waiting, the chutes opened, and people sailed to the ground. The excitement was building for me, the fear was building for my wife.
The boring part comes next, we got in a sketchy van, drove to the training ground, got several warnings to “drain our fears” in the porta-john, suited up and got in the plane.
Now the fun begins – Haley was more and more terrified as we were taking off from a grassy field in a plane held together with duct tape. No runway, no seats. It was her first flight, and she was going to jump out.
We flew up in a spiral, enjoying the serene view, watching the world get smaller. Everything that seems to matter so much on the ground doesn’t mean much as you hit 5000 feet, 6000, 7500, 9000 feet.
Up and up, you can’t hear anything over the plane’s engines. You don’t care that you can’t hear anything, and then the door opens.
Forget everything you know.
Haley jumped first. I made sure of that, just so I could get it on the film that I paid entirely too much money for. That was her experience, so I won’t elaborate on it. Suffice it to say – she didn’t back out.
I was up next. I slid to the edge with my tandem instructor uncomfortable attached to my back, put my feet out of the plane and looked down really quick before I put my head back and my life in another person’s hands.
And we were off. Tumbling through the air at 10,000 feet, falling toward the earth at 120 miles per hour, and it wasn’t terrifying, at all.
It was loud. It was disorienting. It was exhilarating. I forgot everything I knew and lived purely in the moment, with the wind pushing into my nostrils and making my skin do funny things. Arms back and enjoy the view.
Skydiving feels nothing like a roller coaster. It feels nothing like bungee jumping. You don’t get that feeling like you’re falling out of bed. It’s impossible to explain. But it IS fun.
At 6,000 feet you get to pull the ripcord and start flying instead of falling. The entire world gets quiet.
I always expected parachutes to be loud, but you can’t hear much after falling at 120 miles per hour, and you don’t really know what quiet sounds like until you’re away from the ground, floating.
No music, no traffic, no cell phones, nothing other than the very fresh air and your pounding heartbeat. Then you get to enjoy the view again – the view that makes you think about why you care so much about all the bullshit in your life. It’s all so small.
Then we had fun!
Part of the deal with making Haley go first was that I wanted to get as much of her experience on film as I could – so we had to beat her to the ground, too!
I got to pilot the parachute, and my instructor was up for fun, too, so he guided me through some maneuvers that were insanely fun. Spirals toward the ground! Talk about gut-wrenching and exciting! We passed Haley and her instructor rather quickly.
A few maneuvers later and we were sliding into a grassy field, safely back on the ground, ahead of my wife. I caught her landing on film, and my Father’s Day gift was complete.
Like meditation, everyone should jump out of a plane.
I’ve talked about meditation before, and this is another one of those things that I recommend everyone try. At least, try it if you’re healthy enough.
Skydiving gives you a perspective on the world that a lot of people will never understand. When you skydive, you truly live in the moment. Nothing else matters except for the feeling of the wind.
You get to see the world from above without a window clouding the view. You get to fly.