During a skydive, the threshold of an aircraft door is the shortest, yet widest, distance between frozen fear and unbridled flight. Crossing that threshold for the first time is uncomfortable, unnatural, and for most, unnecessary.
Unnecessary? That’s right. You can stay right where you are. You can absolutely stay belted in.
Often the first leap is the toughest… that comfort zone sure is cozy. Come to think of it, it’s crowded, hot, loud and common. In this blog, I suggest we allow ourselves to ask for a little push, or maybe a little pull to help with kicking that threshold out and really seeing the world for what it really is… a place to be experienced.
Standing on the edge of the open door of the Twin Otter aircraft, I stared down 13,000 feet at the Colorado Front Range. Cool air rushed at my face. I couldn’t focus on any one thing in particular because my eyes were teary under my thin plastic goggles. Why tears? I felt a little silly… the airplane was filled with about a dozen men, all of which had jumped before, some multiple times. The pilot yelled, “hurry up- get out quick”. There was no danger, we were just getting close to the clouds, which the aircraft was not planning to fly through. Before I knew it, It was time to jump out of the airplane… my two instructors told me to stand up- my legs wobbled and I hesitated. Guided to the door, they yelled instructions over the sound of flight. Every single thing in my body told me not to go.
Regardless of my fear, we left the airplane. We fell fast. It was happening. I was falling from the sky.
When we safely returned to the classroom, my instructors sat me down and said to me, “tell us your recollection of the jump- how did it go, from your perspective?”
Ok, sure, no problem.
*My* recollection was that we stood up on the plane, walked to the door, I went through the planned motions of a four count. “Prop, up, down, arch”… I thought that I focused on the propeller of the aircraft, counted one, two and then pushed out of the airplane and arched into a safe formation for flight.
Nope, that was actually not the case. In my mind, I had done it… I had made the leap. To my surprise, I found that while I had focused on the prop, and counted one, two, rather than pushing myself out, I actually froze. Rusty pulled my harness and Dave pushed from his holding position and *that* is how I got out of the airplane. It all happened so fast that I didn’t realize that I hadn’t done it myself. Suddenly, I was out of the airplane, falling and my inaction was no longer an option. I was responsible for my choices on the way down and it was up to me to succeed at my first non-tandem jump.
The moment that I signed up to go through the Accelerated Free Fall program at Mile High Sky Diving, I set the momentum of the jump in action. The first step was to learn, the second was to do, and the third will be to eventually excel. Steps, a process, allowing some to push and others to pull is all a part of trying something that makes you feel alive. You aren’t in these experiences alone if you don’t want to be… you are responsible for creating your team, involving those you trust to encourage you, pushing when you need, pulling when you need.
Whenever we learn something new, we must first give into the fact that we will not be as fearless as we may like. As long as you put yourself in the environment to learn, to be around what it is you want to be and do, you get the benefit of momentum. Before you know it, you will be pushed, pulled, or maybe just nudged out the door by your love of your project, your ideas and your adrenaline. You will be forced to grow your own wings.
When Rusty and Dave told me that I hadn’t actually took the initiative to push myself out of the airplane, I felt a little bit, well, lame. Why couldn’t I overpower my fear with rational thought and just take the leap? Because just like everyone else in the world, I wanted to protect myself from the uncertainty of fear and an unknown outcome. Could I pull my parachute, could I arrive safely back down at the landing zone? I had no idea, but it took the help of others who have gone before me to show that it is ok to get the initial push in order to truly face a fear.
If you are afraid or hesitant to take a leap, surround yourself by those who will push and those who will pull. The fall seems like the most daunting thing you could ever do… but once you are in flight, the view is unmatched. You will have put yourself in a spot that so few dare to arrive at. Seek mentors, seek advice, love the push, love the pull, and allow yourself to learn from those who know the freedom you are seeking.
After pulling a parachute, the sound you will hear will be one you’ll never forget. It is a triumphant silence- one that speaks to the chest expanding, love of living a life unbound by the resistance of an average life.
Make the jump, cross the threshold and know that the view is worth the fear. Be pushed, be pulled, then do the same for others who want to cross over the threshold from average to amazing.