I remember running my first marathon. Don’t you remember your first time? It was in Maui where my friends dropped me off at the start line. Before I started running, heck, before I even got out of the car, I cried. Yep! That was me. Cry baby in the back seat. I cried because, well, I was scared. I cried because I was doing something out of my comfort zone. Something I had never done before and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.
Fast forward a few years later and there I am yet again crying in the car. And while it wasn’t a running journey I was about to dive into, it was however a dive. A skydive to be exact. Skydiving has always been on my “list” of things I wanted to do. And while I never thought I would actually cross it off my list, there I was taking the plunge from 13,000 feet. I was nervous and scared. It didn’t help that the five minute video I was forced to watch before the jump repeatedly told me that I might die. Repeatedly.
Statistically though, skydiving is by far safer than getting into your car. Fact is, in skydiving, you are in a controlled environment. You put trust in the instructors who have at least jumped 500 times to even qualify as an instructor. They take all the necessary precautions. And while yes, unfortunate accidents do happen on occasion, for the most part you trust that those instructors will land you safely on the ground. In a car however, there is no trust. That one girl in the next car over is applying mascara while behind, a guy is talking on his phone. Look behind you at the child in the back seat for a split second and...Well, you get my point.
Despite the death toll numbers being far greater in an automobile than a jump, it was still a fear I needed to overcome. Grateful that I was doing a tandem jump for I was able to let someone else do all the work. In the small plane, everything happened way too fast, but at the same time I felt like we were moving in slow motion. Surreal to look out of a moving plane with the door wide open. Even more surreal to see loved ones fall from the sky, until you’re the one actually falling!
My instructor gave me no time to think. There was no hesitation or a chance to back out. Once at the door, I bent my knees like I was told and away we went. I thought I would close my eyes. The act of jumping out of a plane was too terrifying to grasp. Happy to report, no eyes were shut in the duration of the jump. I loved the feeling of falling! It is one of those things that is hard to describe, but so amazing to experience. After what felt like a long while of falling, there was a jerk and the parachute opened. I cared not for the jerk, but adored the views! I took it all in and cherished the ride. My head and ears suffered more than I cared to admit, but regardless, I had done it!
And I might do it again! There are things I do on a daily basis where I am on auto pilot. Just going through the motions of life. And sometimes, if I am lucky, there are the things I get to experience that challenge me. And it is those uncomfortable, crying in the car moments that truly defines me as a person and the great heights I am able to accomplish. And that is what living is all about!