My first skydive wasn’t with Skydive Spaceland Houston…… It was with a “Fly- by- Night“, operation, if you will excuse the pun. As jumpers were paired with tandem “instructors,” I was like the cross-eyed kid picked last for dodge-ball. My “instructor” was a very kind, petite woman. I was a power-lifter who would’ve exceeded the weight requirements with a piece of gum in my mouth. Well Tinker Bell, let’s hope that chute is packed with Fairy Dust. Where’s the landing? “Second star to the right and straight on till morning. “UHHHHH, excuse me???
After a less than controlled spinning decent, she pulled our chute. Our “ramming speed landing” involved my soon- to- be bruised butt digging a trench. No jumpsuit was provided and I will never forget that life -changing deep and unrelenting wedgie. My cargo shorts instantly transformed into hot pants. You’re welcome to assume where the extra fabric went, it was very intimate. Any harder and that wedgie would have been classified as a gender reassignment. I was coughing up cargo shorts for a week.
Fast forward some years, I’m once again staring at a jump door. However, this time I worked the “Google Machine,” armed with a little knowledge and a ton of good reviews. I chose Skydive Spaceland Houston. I’m wearing a jump suit, I went through a training class, and my instructor (Hank) is a great teacher. The landscape below began to resemble a patchwork quilt as the needle on my altimeter climbed. It’s GO TIME.
I do stupid stuff, not because I’m awesome, but because I ate too many paint chips as a kid. I may rock climb, long-distance hike, and white water kayak. But, I also eat too much, drink craft beer, and make tons of bad life choices. Sure there are a few videos of me seal dropping a kayak while on fire, but in fairness that was a double-dare. In the end I’m not a Go-pro, specimen of awesome adventure. So, of course, that one step shortcut to the lobby left me with a dropping sensation. However, it quickly passed and was followed by a need to scream “Hell Yeah!” But, with 55 seconds left of free fall now what? I guess enjoy the view?
Nicholas is an awesome photographer who tried to get my attention, but I was flying. Alright Nicholas I’ll hold your shoe and try to smile at 120mph! But, my face is flapping like a geriatric twerk-off. Not to mention, I’m wearing a bright blue adult onesie. I look so cool. All joking aside, this was the most peaceful 55 seconds of my life. At chute deployment the g-force screamed, “welcome to being alive!” No longer falling at 120mph, there’s absolute silence, as if you’re a leaf drifting upon the breeze.
You want to know if it’s scary? It’s hard to be authentically afraid surrounded by so many professionals. Yet, in fairness, fear’s not always logical. Fear is an assumption of things which have not and may never happen. Fear of failure causes us to never try. Fear of being alone causes us to stay in bad relationships. Fear of the unknown and of what if imprisons us to weekends of reality television, yet never jumping. Screw Fear.
Why jump out of a perfectly good plane? The answer will be different for everyone. Perhaps you want a once in a lifetime thrill or a mark off your bucket list? Yet, maybe, just maybe, it will open your eyes. What if that 55 seconds changes your life? Gravity like death and taxes is an indiscriminate equalizer
- So few of us will face our fears and choose to live. No matter your age, income, race, beliefs, or backgrounds we’re all soaring toward the earth at 120mph. We are all in this process of returning to the ground from which we came.Why waste a good jump?
Take 55 seconds of free fall and let that sink in. Hopefully I’ll see you there.