“I volunteered you for something.” Marcie smiled sweetly at me in the hallway at church 6 months ago. If it was only the smile, I wouldn’t have thought much about it. But the eyes gave her away. The smile spoke nothing, the eyes were dancing with mischief.
“We’re going skydiving and I said you’d do it too!” There it was. This wasn’t some “Amy can bring cupcakes to the next activity” volunteer. This was risk my life, throw myself out of a plane volunteerism.
The practical, 36 year old Amy’s stomach immediately had to scrape itself off the floor. WHAT??? My brain was screaming. I have kids! I have a husband! I have a business! I can’t risk all that!
At the same moment my 36 year old self was trying to wrap my mind around this invitation, my 16 year old self spoke up. “Absolutely! I’ve always wanted to do that!” Oh those stupid bucket lists we make when we are too young to realize we have anything to lose!
Fastforward to last week. And this is me, preparing for the jump of a lifetime! The week leading up to the jump felt surprisingly like the week before giving birth. Every time I thought about the actual event, the fear would start to creep in. The fear was real and tangible. But it was also premature. I was diligent about refocusing my thoughts. Every time I would start to get that panicky feeling I would tell myself two things.
- You’re not jumping now. So you don’t need to be afraid now.
- Fear and excitement are practically the same thing.
And then I would simply go back to work.
I expected to feel more afraid on Saturday. But I didn’t. The truth is, fear and excitement are pretty much the same emotion. And 90% of what I felt was excitement. There were moments of fear that tried to creep in during my 2 hour drive to the jump site. I just kept reminding myself, “You’re not jumping now. You don’t need to be afraid now.”
We jumped with Skydive Spaceland Atlanta and they were AMAZING! They were inclusive, encouraging, and had a great way of focusing you on the excitement while minimizing the fear. I highly recommend them.
The bus ride to the airport was fun. 7 crazy skydivers, and two would be skydivers laughed and talked about man buns, national bald and free day, and what their first jumps were like. Then all 9 of us squeezed into a tiny airplane with no seats or masks that would descend in case of change in cabin pressure. And within seconds we were on our way to 14,000 ft elevation.
It’s easy to feel calm when you’re on the journey, but not yet to the moment of fear. That moment came when they opened the doors and the air filled the plane. The first group jumped and I thought my heart had left the plane with them. The second group jumped and my entire body was full of wiggly squirmy worms. I was the third group. My tandem instructor scooted towards the door as all thoughts became emotions. All movement of my limbs was a result of autopilot. And then I got to the edge.
I’d planned it for months. This thing that had been on my bucket list since I was 16 years old. A dream that life deemed unpractical and was forgotten until suddenly revived by someone else’s crazy idea. Standing on the edge of that airplane was both terrifying, and exhilarating.
And then we jumped and I was flying. Shock. Freedom. Eternity. Perspective. Conqueror. Time rushed and stood still. I was hyper aware of every moment. 45 seconds disguised as forever passed and I pulled the parachute.
Bodies jerked as fabric expanded and then comes the sweet moment to soar above the world. It’s the reward for taking the plunge most people wouldn’t. I flew. And every moment was amazing!
Re-entry was another story. My instructor wanted to give me the full experience and did a couple of spins as we were gliding in. My body had been through a mass of adrenaline and couldn’t take the last spin. His reward for going the extra mile in creating the full experience, was getting to wash my vomit off of his shirt. I landed, shaking, sick, sweating, and with the ground feeling less steady than the air I’d just experienced.
It took some time to come back down from the high and re-adjust to having my feet on the ground and for my stomach to decide it didn’t want to repel everything it came in contact with.
I’m so glad I went! I learned so much about life.
- Don’t let your dreams die out of practicality.
- Fear and excitement are almost the same emotion, choose which direction you focus on.
- There is a time to feel the fear, the rest of it is just imaginary anticipation.
- The scariest moment is right before you take the plunge.
- The first jump is both turbulent and exhilarating.
- When you do what most people won’t, you experience what most people can’t. And the reward is worth it.
- It’s okay if re-entry is rocky. Just because you tried something amazing, doesn’t mean you are exempt from the struggles and realities of life and being human. It’s okay, it doesn’t mitigate the fact that you were soaring minutes before. Celebrate the soaring. Be patient with the puking. Some of the best things we do in life will create the highest highs, and the lowest lows.
What 16 year old dreams do you need to pull out and brush off? Share with me on Facebook at Amy Walker Living.