My first tandem jump at Skydive Spaceland Houston was an amazing experience. Yet, one quickly realizes tandem jumps are a “gateway drug.” What started as a bucket-list birthday tandem turns into a half-price second jump.
Some ground training and recreational weekend jumps in the Skydiver Training Program, then “boom”, you’re mainlining dive-flows. Fiending for some freefall, your eyes widen as the weather clears. Yep, you’re officially addicted.
After Lauren did a few jumps, our morning-coffee conversations shifted from lawn care and family plans to skydiving. With our student books and a now “worn” Skydiver’s Information Manual on the coffee table, we’ve come to realize this sport is a lifelong process of education and refinement.
Standing among you Jedi level jumpers, I, the Padawan learner, am painfully aware of my ignorance and inexperience. I think Hank, my instructor, nearly resorted to sock puppets a few times at Malfunction Junction. With this finely tuned five foot, eight inches, of tender “ginger white meat,” I fly like a wrecking ball on fire.
I’ve seen you skillful jumpers soar like an eagle on the breeze. What’s it like carrying that handkerchief of a canopy you flew like a skeleton horse through the gates of Hell? I’m the clown, flying the Ringling Brothers Circus tent.
A few jumps ago I bungled my exit. Each mistake compounded the next. As it turns out, you can’t muscle the wind, nor does it or gravity respond to bribes, threats, or profanities. As insecurity crept in, I wanted to give up. Yet one by one, my “Spaceland Family” encouraged me to take another jump.
As the door opened for the next jump, looking down towards the drop zone, something was different. In freefall, I was somehow no longer part of the world below me. For 60 seconds, politics, religion, insecurities, social status, and doubt were irrelevant. At gravity’s beckoning, the bonds of daily life were cast out into the deep blue sky. In that brief moment everything made sense. This is my life. Does pointlessly muscling against it help? Do cursing and complaining make a difference? Does caving to insecurities or fearing failure ever end well?
As a premiere facility, I expected Skydive Spaceland to provide excellent instruction and equipment. But I didn’t expect you to change my life. Nor did I expect you to so quickly take Lauren and me in as family.
To our instructors: We appreciate the education, laughter, and friendship. Manifest, thanks for smiling when you know I’m clueless. To our packers, I’m a huge fan of your work at 3000 feet. To our fun jump friends, thanks for the advice, mild hazing, and endless “questionably inappropriate” jokes. For the record this is not my “FIRST” article, you BEER VULTURES. Love you guys. Blue Skies!
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