This post was originally written at Lake Wanaka, NZ in March 2018.
Today I jumped out of an airplane. My experience was interesting to say the least. I wasn’t scared, in fact I was ridiculously excited. The view was unbelievable and the feeling of “oh my god I’m just falling towards the earth” was surreal.
However my experience wasn’t all roses. During the free fall, try as I might, I couldn’t catch my breath. Have you ever got in a cold pool and suddenly couldn’t breathe? Yeah…that was the exact experience for 45 seconds of free fall. My exact rapid fire thoughts during this experience were:
“Oh my god I can’t believe this happening.”
“Okay, just try to stay calm and breathe slowly.”
“Oh my god I can’t slow down my breath, I’m going to pass out up here.”
“No, actually I’m getting oxygen even though my body is thinking that I’m not.”
“Stay calm and try to enjoy.”
“I can’t enjoy this, I can’t freaking breathe”
“How much longer is this going to last?”
“It’s okay, I can do anything for 45 seconds.”
And then the parachute open and I had an instant headache and then instant relief. That sweet relief of getting a full breath of air again is something I’ll never forget.
We began to do some spins and although I was dizzy and the last thing I wanted to do was spin in the air, I put my arms out, smiled, and went for the ride as we started to descend towards the ground.
Once back on solid ground I felt things normalize again. I could breathe. I looked at my new friends as they landed around me and the smiles were there. We had just done something incredible.
I believe that taking that jump may be a metaphor for the changes in my life. I’m always nervous but mostly excited. I think through potential scenarios of things going wrong, but in this case something I didn’t even consider is what went wrong. I did a free fall with someone at my back, ready to pull the chute when the time was right, but it was my overwhelming experience that mattered. The thoughts that ran through my head made me realize my own strength.
Yes, I was scared. Yes, it was challenging. Yes, it was overwhelming. But I survived. I stayed calm, talked myself through the moment. I felt every feeling of emotion on that rollercoaster of 45 seconds. And now I know. I will never have to wonder again what it’s like.
In the end, it all turned out okay. It wasn’t the experience I had hoped to walk away with, but it was one that I don’t regret in the slightest. I wouldn’t do it again, but that leap of faith has instilled a confidence in me to take another leap of faith and bet on myself.
Maybe I’ll end up terrified and out of breath. But I have a parachute of people who love me and I love in return to grab me at the right moment and help me to breathe. Something exciting and life changing always requires a leap of faith – and I’m in the airplane on the way up. Getting ready to jump.