How true- for every single day I look up at the sky and study the clouds, feeling the breeze, wanting to just feel the earth drift away and being free.
So back to Skydiving. It's something you hear many people talk about wanting to do, and then never getting around to it. "Maybe one day" or "It's not in the budget right now" or "I'm too old"
For that I have to say- If you want to do it, MAKE it happen!
I remember how it started. I was on Facebook, when I saw a friend post "Who wants to go Skydiving? Let's make this a big event!" I decided right then and there it was my time. What better way to Skydive? Having a big group of friends to jump with and cheer each other on! I started putting money aside and prepared.
On the event page, there were many people from Haunted Houses I worked with. The idea came about to make this event really unique- not just Skydive, but dress up as Zombies and Skydive! It was different and would really attract a crowd! How neat would it be to look up and see Zombies falling from the skies? (Only for a while, then it's time to RUN!!)
But wait! We had to go even bigger! If a lot of people were attending this event, what if we did some sort of Fundraiser for a local charity? We could have fun and be doing something amazing.
I spoke with a dear friend of mine, Katerina Marks, about Operation Zombie Drop and the plans that they had. We discussed and she suggested that the CMTA (Charcot-Marie-Tooth Association) would be a great cause for this event! Not only would it help raise money to be donated toward finding a cure, but it would raise lots of awareness!
You can read more about the CMTA here- cmtausa.org
The event was planned. All that was left was to attend.
When I called to register for my Skydive and it was approved, I felt a little knot in my stomach- "I'm really going to do it, I'm going to jump out of an airplane!"
The day drew nearer and I got more excited. I watched Skydiving videos and spoke with a few friends who were already certified Skydivers. I wondered what it would be like. I knew I'd go through with it, but that didn't stop me from being a little nervous!
Finally the day arrived! We all carpooled and headed out.
I played music that I thought would be appropriate, everything from "Up in the Sky" by 77 Bombay Street, to "Major Tom" and "I believe I can fly". I was ready.
We arrived and went through the necessary paperwork and such- you know, waivers, checking your registration, that kinda thing. They checked our height and weight to match us up with an instructor. Then it was time!
We put on our harness and met one on one with our instructor. They gave us a Ground School lesson about Skydiving. What to do before jumping, what was going to happen, and so forth. It was pretty basic stuff, this was just a Tandem Jump- (A Tandem Jump is where you're attached to somebody else while they do all the work- controlling the parachute and everything like that- all you have to do is enjoy the ride!)
We walked outside as a group with our instructor and headed for the plane. That knot grew a little bit bigger as all the thoughts raced through my head- "I hope I'm hooked up right", "This is going to be fun", "I wonder what it'll look like from up there" all at a zillion miles per hour.
We climbed into the plane and there were two benches on either side. Our instructor sat down, facing toward the door, with one leg on either side of the bench. We were instructed to do the same in front of our instructor with our back turned to them. I remember thinking "Wait, when are we being hooked up to our instructor?"
The plane began to taxi and I saw the ground move. This was it, it's almost time, no backing out now. Suddenly, I felt my instructor pull me up close to him as he was hooking me in. "That's much better," I remember thinking, feeling safer. I just began to drift away with my thoughts as I saw the earth getting further away.
I had gotten a video of the Skydive, so my instructor was asking me lots of questions along the way. As we got closer to our altitude, he was asking me how I felt and if I had anything else to say.
Suddenly we were at 14,000 feet! The clouds were among us and everything below looked so small. Then, the door opened and that knot came back. The knot of excitement and wonder, of not knowing what was going to happen.
I saw the people ahead of us suddenly disappear out the airplane door, it was almost surreal- one minute they're in a perfectly good airplane, the next they were out! We scooted closer to the door and I gritted my teeth.
I was kneeling right next to that airplane door, facing outward, with the wind slapping me in the face, trying to look down. The instructor pulled my head back as I crossed my arms. My eyes kept lowering as I wanted to see what was below me. "Holy crap, this is really high, this is about to happen, I can't believe this, what have I done" I wanted to feel the safeness of that plane but I felt gravity wanting to pull us out. "Ready??" said the instructor. "Uhh err..." I stammered. "GREAT!" as he shoved us out into the open air.
My body flipped and I saw the airplane above me and we flipped again and the ground was below me. You know that feeling in your stomach when you go down that first hill in a roller coaster? That adrenaline pumping, exciting feeling? It was like that, but lasted so much longer. The earth was hurdling toward me and the air was whipping wildly all around me. I felt free, but I barely had time to even think- I was lost in the moment. The wind blew my cheeks as they rippled. By this time, I was enjoying the ride. My body had gotten use to it and I was at peace with everything. No matter what happened, I was free.
We fell for a minute or two, which felt like just a few seconds. Suddenly I flung forward while my harness caught me and I went "OOF!" The Instructor had deployed the parachute and we slowed down considerably.
This was my absolute FAVORITE part of Skydiving. Drifting through the air, feeling like I'm actually flying. The diving part was amazing, don't get me wrong- it was adrenaline pumping, exciting, dangerous, everything a thrill-seeker could ask for! Then this part was just beyond relaxing.
I was among the clouds. I looked at my feet and how high I was. It was intoxicating, thrilling, exhilarating. It's a word I can't even say because I don't think it exists. It's hard to describe a feeling such as that. My worries and cares were all below me. I wanted to keep soaring like this forever. I saw rainbow circle bursts in the clouds, which I thought was the coolest thing ever. I felt the Instructor guide us with the parachute. I looked up a saw him controlling the chute from the corner of my eye. "This would be so cool to learn how to do" I floated through the air and enjoyed the ride. I wanted to learn how to fly.
As the ground got nearer, I was thinking "awww, man!" It was fun but we had to land sometime. We circled around our landing spot and the Instructor told me to extend my legs and lift my feet up in front of me. I did so, and we skidded along the ground in the grass.
Back on the ground with a whirlwind of excitement, I was lost in the moment, replaying what just happened over and over again. I felt like such a daredevil. I felt accomplished. I felt like I had overcome this amazing obstacle. I felt wonderful, I had done something I had always wanted to do. I felt true freedom and flight.
Now I'm hooked. Seriously! After that event, I researched how to get certified, and what happens during certification. How you go through lots of Ground School to start, and how you jump with other instructors before taking your first flight solo. I'm in love with flying, aerodynamics, planes and now Skydiving, so one of my next goals is to become Skydive Certified.
Have you thought about Skydiving and want to do it? I highly encourage you to do it! Experiences and opportunities are at every turn, and life is short. Seize these opportunities and just take that leap! Sure, it may be scary or nerve-wracking, but you will thank yourself later! You'll feel braver, more confident, and really good for checking something off that bucket list!
I've adopted a mantra that has helped me throughout my life, and it's one I learned from my big brother- it's just 2 simple words- "No Fear"- We all have fears and doubts, for whatever reason. When I've felt that pang of fear, I silently say these simple 2 words to myself. Once I do that, I feel this wave of calm wash over me, because there's nothing to fear. When those fearful thoughts come back, I just whisper again "No Fear" It's a simple meditation act that has helped me through a lot. In reality, what is there to fear? Death? It's gonna happen anyway. For anything else- time heals all. Why not live life to the fullest and embrace all that it has to offer!