Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Dance With Death

March 26,2012
Kapowsin Field Airport
Tandem jump


I’m always striving to do something more, though I never know what more is. No matter what I do it’s never quite enough. I don’t know what it is I want from life, or crave, but I strive to feel that feeling. Whatever it is, maybe it’s simply to be free. Something in my life is missing and I can never fulfill it, except that is when I’m flying. Which, I guess would make sense, since when I have the controls of a plane I feel as if nothing can bring me down. I feel free and at peace with myself, in those moments I’m content. So, maybe it’s more important to start out with stating that I’m always looking for more, except for when I’m flying.

I yearn to be free. Not free as in being able to live on my own and buy my own things, that isn’t my idea of free, that’s responsibility. To be free is to not have a care in the world, no obligation and to enjoy every moment of every second. To live life to the fullest while being the best person you possibly can be. I read a quote somewhere once, where it said that the only way to become a better person is to do the things you fear the most.
  If you think about it, that’s a funny statement because some people are terrified of the water, so to swim in it- unthinkable. Yet, it would make sense that doing things that terrify you would make you a better person. Today, I did my version of the unthinkable. Well, sort of.  I faced my fear of heights head on. It’s odd though, because I’m not afraid when I’m nestled inside my tiny plane, I think I just feel safe enough. I am however, terrified when I’m on a huge building looking down, I get dizzy. 

I can say I’ve touched the sky through the very few planes I’ve flown.  I’ve allowed myself to melt into the controls, extend to the wings and feel the air holding me up. It’s a wonderful feeling, and though it fulfills that void I feel when I’m on the surface, I wanted more. I wanted to be out of the plane for once, and to experience something more thrilling. So, I did exactly that. Instead of flying the airplane today, I jumped out of it. It’s an odd feeling going up in that plane but knowing you won’t be landing with it. 


You would think it would be uncomfortable being strapped to someone you don’t even know, their legs on either side of yours as the plane takes off, then sitting in their lap once you're in the air waiting to reach altitude. I remember we were so close I could feel his breathing on my back, but it was more comforting than not. As one of the jumpers began to open the door, my instructor leaned in and said that I wasn’t going anywhere without him, and he wasn’t going anywhere without me, though it sounds creepy, it actually calmed me. It meant we were in this together. We made our way the edge of the plane and dangled our legs off the edge. I’ve had many people ask me what was going through my mind, was I afraid, did I think I was going to die, the list goes on. The simple answer- no. I wasn’t afraid. Maybe I’m not so afraid of heights anymore after all.  In all the pictures you see a smile plastered on my face. I was excited, more excited than I’ve been in a long time, minus my flight training, nothing beats that. But I wasn’t thinking I was going to die, I was thinking that I was finally going through with this, I was finally going to touch the sky myself. Finally, I was going to be where I’ve wanted to be for so long. No fear exsisted, no nervousness, nothing, just pure joy.  We rocked back once, then we were falling forward and suddenly I was surrounded by my element- the sky. It was everywhere, and I was breathing it in big mouthfuls, quenching my thirst for freedom. I felt it surge through me. This, this was freedom. To escape the chains the earth’s surface has on all of us, to dance on the tip of deaths fingers. I threw my hands out and screamed with joy.


For a split second, I was one with the sky. I felt the force of gravity pressing into me, rushing me towards the ground. By that time we had entered the cloud. I faced two fears that day. My fear of heights and my claustrophobia, though I wasn’t stuck in a small cramped place, I just wasn’t able to see anything or hear anything at all. I didn’t like not knowing where the ground was. The cloud opened its arms but it wasn’t welcoming. It wrapped itself around every inch of my body and white was all I could see. I felt like I was trapped.  It engulfed me, though try as it might it could not take that feeling of freedom from me. Half of our free fall was through that cloud, are chute was even opened within it. Saying I’ve been through a cloud is a lot cooler sounding than actually having lived it.

My instructor was talking to me about how to control chute- it was crazy cool. And we were tumbling through the air, I remember him saying we needed to bleed off some altitude so he cranked it to the side and we began to do downward steep turns. It made me dizzy but I loved every moment of it, and when we landed I asked if we could go again. My instructor just laughed at me, hes in the army and does this for fun. I thought that was pretty cool, when I jump again I definitely plan to request him. He explained everything to me the whole way, I loved it. Today, I touched the sky and I touched a cloud. I conquered not one but two fears.

I guess I’m just made for this kind of thing because I plan to go skydiving two more times before summers end. I think I may even go so far as to go without an instructor tied to my back, where I open the chute myself. I bet that’s where the adrenalin rush really is.

 “The sky is the limit but greeting the ground safely is the goal”- Jesse Karpen(in blue)

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