Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Desire To Jump

Everything begins with desire.

For me, the desire to jump had been present for a couple decades.

It wasn't a burning desire; rather it lay mostly dormant. But it had been planted in my brain and would pop up every so often like the bud of a flowering bush, reminding me it was still alive though I wasn't fertilizing it.

Until, that is, I found myself with an unexpectedly free evening and I made a fairly split-second decision. If I was going to do it, now was the time. Suddenly the seed that had been planted was a plant in full bloom.

I drove to the hangar at 7:30 yesterday morning. This was after having been there for four hours the night before for the instructional course. 

You know, the "worst-case-scenario-and-you-need-to-know-what-to-do" class.

The one that scares you adequately into knowing you're really screwed if "worst case" should happen.

Until that morning I hadn't known:
That terror could take on liquid form and replace the blood in your veins.
That fear is an invisible but highly tangible entity. 
That those deodorant commercials are full of crap.

I ate nothing that morning. The only thing I wanted to see flying in the air above me was my canopy, the only thing below me, the landing zone.

As we prepare to board the plane, my nerves were at a high. Some desires are safe.

Painting a piece of furniture, for instance.

This one was not.

But I tried not to let it show. I remember wishing I had been more composed when I bungee jumped years ago in college, so I was determined to not let the fear show on my face this time. Although one of the women there said she could see it.

I don't doubt it.
It's hard to mask sheer terror.

But the nerves were worst on the ground. I got in the plane knowing that I could still chicken out, but really, I didn't even think about it by that point. The plane ride was fun, although cramped, and I told myself, "This is what you came here to do. Enjoy it and do it well."

The type of jump I did is called static line jumping. Meaning my chute was attached to the airplane, so when I jumped, it would be pulled for me. Meaning, also, no more than a few seconds of free fall before my chute opened.

Even then, I was not really flying this thing by myself.

Yes, I had to perform a canopy check to make sure it had opened properly.

And a controlibility check to make sure the canopy was in proper working order.

This included a left turn, a right turn, and a 5-second flare, which means I collapsed the canopy to make sure I could do it when it was time to land. That was probably the part I enjoyed most because it was more-than-exciting to feel the canopy collapse way up there.

And it would have been my responsibility to take care of any worst-case scenario. 

However, I carried a radio, and someone on the ground was continually telling me what direction to turn and when. I was directed step by step to the ground.

My landing wasn't perfect. I did land on my feet, but then got pulled backward. One thing I can improve for next time. :-)

And then the hunger hit. I ate two pancakes at the hangar, which was fine for the time being. Then I ate a huge amount of food when I got home. It's also interesting what adrenaline does to your thirst. I couldn't get enough water afterward. I ate an entire half of a watermelon at home!

I did get a nice bruise on my chin afterward. I think the instruments on my chest strap hit me during my freefall, which they say happens.

I'm ok with that being the worst thing that happened. Other than the whole dying-thing, my biggest concern was injuring myself in any way that would hinder my week-long climbing trip that's coming up.

But I walked away without issue.

 Lesson Learned: 
Sometimes it's ok to let a desire grow for a long time. 
The time isn't always now. 
But when it is, do it. 

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