Forty-five seconds of free-fall adrenaline

Graphic by Joshua Awolade

Graphic by Joshua Awolade

As I sit on the quaking metal floor, ascending 12,000 feet into the air, there’s one question jumping through my adrenaline-surged mind: What the hell am I about to do?

The door slides open and furious winds blast inside. I’m tightly strapped to the instructor I just met — some former Israel Defence Forces soldier called Steve or Zeve or Zev, who I’m expected to trust enough to pull the chute on time to prevent my body from becoming a splattered yolk on the far below land.

At least I’ve got a strong grasp on his first name.

He instructs me to scoot over to the edge and let my feet dangle out. “Keep your eyes open,” he calls in his Israeli accent over the hissing wind.

The world below is like an immense quilt of green and yellow patches, vaguely dotted with thousands of microscopic buildings and cars. No turning back now; those dots are about to get a whole lot bigger. Here’s a fun fact: I’m horrified of heights.

There are a lot of opinions out there about the rise of stupid decision-making in our generation. Our age group drinks until we puke, speeds carelessly through the streets, experiments with drugs, has sex like bunnies, discloses inappropriate information on social media and generally lives without the consideration of consequence. We believe we’re invincible, until that invisibility is challenged. I’d be ignorant to defend myself or any of the reckless decisions made by my peers.

Before deciding whether or not I wanted to risk my life for the exhilarating experience of jumping out of a plane, I found myself contemplating what I would actually get out of it. My father, a charismatic personal injury lawyer, would not approve of such an idiotic excursion. So why do it? Why would anyone dive face first into the wake of danger and harness their life to the hands of a complete stranger?

Maybe it’s because of the media’s glorification of the “adrenaline-junkie” lifestyle. Maybe it’s a literal excuse for jumping out of our comfort zone. Perhaps the fear of death makes us feel more intensely alive. Whatever it is that made me do it, I’m sure damn glad I did.

In those 45 seconds of free-fall, as I darted through the sky, strapped tightly to Steve or Zeve or Zev, quickly nearing the great quilt of green and yellow patches, it felt as if I was flying. All terror ceased to exist and was replaced by absolute enthralment. The earth below never seemed so spectacular. I felt on top of the world, and I was.

I’m not saying we should all jump out of planes to feel a rush of excitement or to conquer deep existing fears. To most people, I don’t suggest it at all. I’m saying we should refuse to let fear control us. As it normally turns out, a little risk can be the appetizer to the main course.

Skydiving is about letting go of everything you know, everything that makes you feel secure, taking the risk and surrendering to the pull of gravity. The only way to accomplish our greatest aspirations is to pursue that exact same mentality: push beyond the bounds of your life and have faith that you don’t end up a splattered yolk.

Travel the world. Learn to play an instrument. Tackle a new language. Do something that scares you. All you need to do is ignore what’s holding you back and keep your eyes open.

And if you ever decide to jump out of plane, take the time to learn the name of the person you’re strapped to.

 

2 Comments

  1. Great advice and perspective. Especially the last line.

  2. I loved your description of that experience. It was poignant and humerous at the same time. And we even got a meaningful life lesson. Can’t wait for your nex article . I love your writing and what you write about.
    Louise Shogilev

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