November 11th, 2014
Generally speaking, anytime I’m in an airplane, my main goal is to stay INSIDE the plane.
Meaning, my goal is to remain in my safe little tin-can cocoon that is flying through the sky.
I don’t desire to open the doors and experience what 30,000 feet in the air feels like. In fact, that’s the last thing I want when I’m flying.
Which is why it was so weird when I decided to go skydiving a few months ago.
Well, actually, I should say that my friend decided it was time for me to go skydiving.
He had just been diagnosed with cancer and had skydiving on his bucket list, and therefore decided that I had it on mine too.
(Which I actually did, although I was moving at a snail’s pace towards this “dream.”)
To be REALLY honest…
When I created my bucket list, I didn’t really think too much about what I put on there.
Skydiving was one of those things that felt like, “Yeah I should totally do that!” but not because I had the deep desire to fling myself out of a moving plane… More like because a lot of people do it and it seems cool and must be an experience worth having.
So when it came time for me to actually put my money where my bucket list was, I WAS SCARED.
So scared that I literally prayed (TO GOD…no less) that it would rain that day so we couldn’t jump.
I prayed to get sick.
Or that my friend would get a cold or something.
(Bad…I know. But anything so we wouldn’t have to jump!)
Alas, I woke up that Saturday morning to a perfect warm, bluebird-friendly Montana day.
Dammit. I thought.
The whole drive to the drop zone, I was quiet.
Trying not to show my friend that I was scared.
Trying not to shake the entire car with my nervous foot twitch.
And when we got to the jump site, my stomach dropped. There was no turning back. They had already checked us in.
We filled out the paperwork. Me…still as silent as can be.
The guys who worked there were all cracking jokes. I’m sure they get this all the time. People being scared. For them, it’s just another day at work.
I watched one of the guys pack up the parachute. Just like that. Laying it on the ground and folding it up and putting it back in the backpack-looking thing, like it was no big deal.
“What if he just broke up with his girlfriend and is so distracted and misses a step?”
“What if he’s hungover and forgets an important part?”
Essentially this guy had my life in his hands and was folding it up into a little backpack as we spoke.
And then they strapped me in and put me into a tiny little plane.
And when I say tiny, I mean TINY.
Like there is only room for four people in it…total.
We took off and my heart was pounding and I was trying to act normal, but inside, I was terrified. And still in a bit of disbelief that in a few short moments I would be jumping out of an airplane.
The ground beneath us got further and further away so that pretty soon, all we could see was colors. And land formations. And segmented plots of land. And sky.
Granted, it was Montana so it was beautiful, but as we got higher and higher, I got more and more scared.
Until suddenly, I remembered something that my friend told me before I left the house.
“Enjoy every last second of the experience. Have your eyes open the whole time. Be calm. And be happy knowing that you’re about to see a view that only birds get to see. You will be flying, so don’t you DARE close your eyes.”
And so in those last moments in the plane, I repeated that over and over again. I meditated.
I told myself I was going to be just fine.
And a few minutes later, it was GO time.
It was my job to open the airplane door, which entailed rolling up a plastic covering that went over the door.
My tandem partner, Willie, then told me to scoot out over the edge of the plane and hold on to him. He would be sitting on the edge of the plane while my feet and bum dangled over.
The air was colder than I expected. The view was just as scary (and just as beautiful) as I imagined it would be.
And as I scooted to the edge of that plane, I knew there was no turning back.
This was happening whether I liked it or not.
And so I took a deep breath, feeling both scared and a bit calm.
Willie counted to three. And then rolled us out of the plane.
We did three spins.
And then… the strangest thing happened.
It was calm. Almost meditative.
And as I watched the plane get further and further away from us, all I could feel was pure presence.
I was THERE, right then. And nowhere else.
And here’s the thing I realized.
I didn’t have that “stomach dropping” feeling, like if I’d been on a roller coaster. Rather, it was more like… floating.
And I did that for awhile.
I was just… FLYING.
And you know what?
I had the BIGGEST smile on my face.
Because I knew I had done something that scared the shit out of me. That I had done something I never thought I could.
And because… FLYING!
And I kept my eyes open so I wouldn’t miss one second of the experience. And I took it all in.
And then when I landed I had an exhilarating mix of emotions.
Pride, excitement, adrenaline, accomplishment, anticipation of doing it again.
And I realized that something bigger had happened that would eclipse all those other emotions.
It’s a bit hard to articulate, but the best way I know to describe my mindset about this experience is…
If I can literally throw myself out of an airplane…I can do anything.
Think about it.
Most people fear getting into an airplane accident. At least once on every flight I take, I think of crashing, or the fact it’s so bizarre I’m in a tin can in the sky.
If I can throw myself OUT OF one of those flying tin cans, on purpose—and not spontaneously combust…
And more than that—if I can enjoy it and find it meditative…
Then I can get through anything.
Skydiving was possibly the scariest (physical) thing I had done up to that point.
And I got through it with relative ease and grace.
I was scared beyond belief, but I did it. And because I did it, my life is richer and more beautiful than before.
The scary part was everything leading up to the jump. The anticipation of “all that could possibly go wrong”. The assumption that it was going to be scary and dangerous.
But the jump itself? And after the jump?
It was pure presence and freedom and beauty.
And you know what? That’s what life is like.
We live most of our days in our heads, going over and over all the things that could possibly go wrong.
The perceived (and totally made up) conclusions about what it’s all going to be like.
We imagine ourselves in pain, or hurting, and so we let that stop us from even getting to the airport.
(That’s what I was doing when I was praying for bad weather, or cold and flu season, or ANY excuse not to go through with my plans, on the way to my skydiving adventure.)
But if we don’t take the leap, we won’t learn the most important lesson of all.
And even more important–if you don’t fly, you don’t experience all that your life has to offer.
And if you don’t experience all that your life has to offer, then you’re just going through the motions. Filling the minutes, unconsciously, until you die.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to spend my entire life not really LIVING.
And speaking of living life to its fullest, that’s exactly why I created the Wildheart Revolution.
Skydiving may not be on your bucket list, but what IS? And what steps are you taking to cross items off that list, one by one?
If it’s taking a long time to make your dreams happen (or you just REALLY want to kick those dreams into high gear) then I’d love for you to consider taking a “leap” into the Wildheart Revolution.
I know it can sometimes actually seem scary to join a new community or program, or make ANY sort of decision (coaching, therapy, bodywork, you name it) that will support you in being the best you can be.
I also know that it’s a million percent worth it.
If you’re already moving towards all the exciting things you want for your life, that’s awesome, and I’d still love to see you inside the Revolution! Because we all run into snags here and there and need a strong and supportive community to help us get through those rough spots.
And if you’re already a Wildheart, or you just want to add a comment below, I’d LOVE to hear from you.
What big “leap” have you taken lately that scared you senseless, but you did it anyway? Or what leap do you WANT to take, but just feel too scared to do it?
Share baby, share!
Oh, and speaking of sharing… here is a video of my skydiving experience, to inspire YOU to take a big leap of your own today. :)
Hope to see you on the inside of the Revolution, Wildheart.