The Fourth Jump

June 11, 2014

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As I scooted my butt closer and closer to the open jump door and finally got the full view of nothing standing between me and 18,000 feet worth of air, I did start to question my sanity. Who wouldn’t? I question myself before crossing the starting line in a marathon, hopping on a jet plane to lands unknown, or doing any of the thousands of activities most of society labels as absurd or downright crazy.

But this time was different. I had three jumps under my belt in two countries. I knew the procedure. However, the fear was more intense, I believe, that even the first skydive in Austin. Nothing but shear force of will allowed me to move myself into the launching position centimeters from that door. From that point onward, it was out of my hands: the tandem instructor only had to use her weight to lean down and send us off into the abyss. I didn’t even notice the photographer I had hired clutching the handles to my left, snapping a few shots of me taking in panic gulps before tumbling out of the only secure object in the air.

How does it feel once you’re up there? Relaxing. Fun. It’s just those three seconds between leaving the plane and hitting terminal velocity that one might actually fear for his life. Your perspective of the ground doesn’t change at that altitude, so it just feels like you’re floating. I was fortunate enough to have a few layers of scattered clouds during my jump, so I got some sensation of falling. By and large, though, you own the world. Rather, the one with whom you’re attached and controls the parachute makes sure you do. Unlike many activities which might require a more experience person to take the lead and show newbies how it’s done, skydiving requires that the tandem instructor be attached to the jumper’s back so the chute can deploy properly. A wonderful set of circumstances for my birthday.

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