Hucking myself from a plane at 18,000 feet was never something that interested me. On the few occasions over the years that I had thought about what it would be like, I knew I could never do it. I imagined myself overcome with paralyzing terror and wondered how anyone could subject themselves to that. Then something happened…my mindset changed.
My family had gone indoor skydiving and it was a blast. Our instructor was a skydiver and we regaled him with questions. I had never met someone who was a solo skydiver with thousands of dives under his belt, and I found him intriguing. He didn’t seem to be someone with a death-wish and in fact, was just a really nice guy who happens to freefall from thousands of feet several times a week.
One of two things will happen when you indoor skydive; 1) you will want to do the real thing, or 2) you won’t. Brett and Holden were in the second category; Gray and I were in the first. My change in mindset had snuck up on me with no warning. It wasn’t even that I wanted to throw myself out of a plane, it was that I wanted to prove to myself that I could. Just like persevering after my first 14er debacle (see an earlier blog post about that here), I didn’t want fear to control me. I knew it was something I had to do or I would regret it, and regret is something I cannot live with.
Having made up our minds that this was something we were going to do, I researched different options along the Front Range and decided on Mile-Hi Skydiving Center in Longmont. I spent the night before we were to go visualizing over and over what it would be like to be in the open door of the plane and to jump out. It terrified me.
In a real test of mental fortitude, the day of our jump as we were all suited up and just about to board the plane, the wind picked up. They put us on a weather hold, and for two hours we waited for the wind to calm down, but it never did. We would not be skydiving that day. I was mentally prepared to do it, so postponing was a bit of a mindf**k, but just another obstacle to overcome. I had this.
The following week we went again and I was feeling calm and confident. Sean, my tandem partner and a man I had never met before, became the most important person in my life. We chatted and I had complete confidence in him. At this point I had no choice. “Trust the equipment” is my mantra in dangerous situations and I felt completely at peace. (Skydiving is actually very safe. The latest annual statistics show that there were 21 deaths in 3.2 million jumps worldwide.)
As we entered the plane, it was quite surreal. I had visualized myself doing this so many times, it felt very familiar and exciting, but not scary. Gray was next to me and he was in a good frame of mind too. We got to altitude, the door opened and I had my first heart stopping moment of terror. My child, the heart of my heart, was hurling through space and I thought I was going to have a heart attack. I had been so busy visualizing my own plummet that I had forgotten to think about his. All I wanted was to jump after him. I had no concern for my own safety and just needed to get to my “baby”.
The freefall was one of the most incredible things I have ever experienced. It was a gorgeous Colorado fall day, and I could see for miles, the patchwork of land stunningly beautiful. A place very dear to me, the Rocky Mountains, were covered in snow. They looked so gorgeous and it felt like they were watching over me. The strange thing is that when you are freefalling that high, it doesn’t feel like you are falling, it feels like you are floating. I could see Gray down below and their parachute was up. Sean pulled our ripcord and our chute went up without a hitch. We were going to survive this. As we floated down, I couldn’t stop smiling! “Take it all in, don’t ever forget this, you DID IT!” was playing over and over in my mind. And the icing on the cake was, as we came in for the landing, I told Sean I wanted to try to land on my feet and we did. “She sticks the landing!” I heard someone yell. It was a proud moment.
I know that not all people are interested in skydiving, but if there is something that frightens you, GO FOR IT! Life begins outside of your comfort zone. Let your faith be bigger than your fear. You won’t ever regret the things you tried, only those you didn’t. #yolo