Skydiving 101: How to Find Yourself While Falling

(A before & after journal of emotions the day I went skydiving)

Before.

In 2 hours I will go skydiving.

I woke up and went to church.  I am trying not to think about what’s going to happen.  My brain will automatically start thinking about what could go wrong and I will scare myself.  The anticipation is always the worst part, and I’m telling myself that.  If I have faith, which I hope I do, then I know it will be okay.  I should be excited for the adrenaline, and I will be.

I hear skydiving is an epiphanic experience.  I hear that people really learn something about themselves, and I’m excited to have this experience.  I think it’s important right now.

I realize a while ago, even when things were good with him, maybe especially w when things were good with him, I had forgotten how to make choices for myself.  It was always a, you pick this time, or let’s rock paper scissors.  There was no risk for disappointing anyone and no risk for disappointing myself.  Today I will choose to jump out of a plane.  I heard that your stomach doesn’t sink because the air feels different up there.  I heard that when you fall it feels more like you’re floating.  I hope that’s true, but it won’t matter if it isn’t.  I’ll already be falling.  The rest of the experience is faith.

It probably doesn’t have to be a religious experience, but I want it to be.  I want it to be a reminder that the choices I make mean something, but not in the artificial way that I scare myself with.  That is what I’m hoping for.

I hope being scared of heights doesn’t….I can’t think about that.

After 

When I was sitting there waiting (they make you wait a long time), I didn’t know how to feel.  I thought I’d be a lot more scared waiting in line, but instead I felt calm.  I wasn’t impatient, and that’s not normal for me.  I just wasn’t in any rush to jump at 14000 feet you know?  I had a lot of thoughts.  They were all rational and calming.  I thought to myself, my thoughts weren’t a bad place to be.  I don’t remember why I thought it was so comforting at the time, but now I do.  We will get to that.

We walked into the loading area and I had this thought like, wow this is happening.  I got antsy then, but it was an out of body impatience.

And then we were walking.  I was thinking, “I am going to jump out of a plane.  I’m going to be on the ground soon.  I wonder how I will feel.”  And then we were on the plane and it was moving and the houses got small enough to look like identical toys and I thought wow this area is just circles on circles and I thought of Irvine and the circular streets of Orange County and I thought about how the terrain just changes and around it was only desert and yellow orange and red roofed houses with the occasional pool or lake and in the distance is the ocean and I think I see Catalina and now it’s just ground and green and yellow orange and sometimes blue and we are so high up that of course it isn’t the same as falling it all looks the same.

And I said I felt like I was going to faint but I knew I wasn’t really going to faint.  I was being strapped to the person behind me and my leg was straddling the person in front of me.  Dominica grabbed my foot and I nudged her with my shoe.  I should have butterflies, but I didn’t because I’d probably throw up if I did.  And then the door was open and I put on the goggles and we started moving and I thought, “I’m going to jump now.  No going back.”  And then we were moving towards the open door and I thought wow it’s just as loud as I imagined it.  This is going to happen and there’s no time to wait.  And then I thought I’m walking too calmly where is the adrenaline.  I pictured myself shaking but I am just walking to the ledge and Dominica is gone and I’m waiting by the door and he says turn to the right and I said okay I remember seeing Dominica facing the right too so of course I should and he said ready and I said yeah because I was ready.  I looked down and I thought I would be afraid but I wasn’t so what the hell was I doing if I wasn’t even scared and then I was at the edge and suddenly I felt…the most comforting feeling I ever had in my life.

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I wasn’t thinking about the plane or the sky.  I thought this was where I was right now, and I was going to be somewhere else in a moment and that would be okay too.  I thought that around me was everything I thought I should be afraid of but what I found instead was a sense of calm protecting me from all that.  One, swing two swing three FLY! and letting go was the only option really and then I was in the air and there was sky then ground then sky and then ground and there was so much time left to just fall and listen to the rushing of the wind and feel the way everything was moving so soft, my mind satisfied with the distance between me and ground and then I looked around and found the golf ball and the chute was pulled and the ground stayed.

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The wind stopped and it was quiet and I could see so far, and the world felt huge and I was only a second falling through time.  I could still the see the ocean and the freeways and all the circles.

It all happened so fast, and I couldn’t really get my head around my thoughts.  We just drifted down in circles until we touched the ground.  I was just laughing and smiling and I couldn’t stop.

I read a quote that said fear exists until the inevitable.  Then we have faith.  I know that’s true now, and that knowledge makes scary things feel much more manageable.  I know it’s only the anticipation, the fear of being scared, that makes it feel unconquerable.   I’m tired of anticipating.  I’m tired of being scared of all the things I don’t have control over.  In the months leading up to this day, I was tired of being myself.

That’s why I jumped.  I decided that I don’t want to think like me anymore.  I am tired, so tired, of all the pressures, chains, and fears I’ve created in my mind.  I’m sick and tired of holding back.  So, on this day, I chose to ignore myself.  I chose to be someone else for a minute – someone fearless and strong – and as I flew, I discovered a piece of my soul that had been sleeping for too long.  It stirred in the plane as I watched the world’s details disappear in the distance, blinked dazedly as I fearfully walked to the edge of the open door, and woke up as I shut off the screams and hesitations that had been guiding my life for so long.

And it felt amazing.

It felt euphoric.

It felt like home.

Home in the sky.

Home as the world came towards me.

Home in a place where I was safe.

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“When I had nothing to lose, I had everything. When I stopped being who I am, I found myself.”  – Paulo Coelho

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