For years while we were dating, my husband and I occasionally brought up the topic of skydiving. We were of the ‘maybe someday’ mindset when it came to several very exciting things.
When we had the chance to go to Colorado, I decided that if we were ever going to actually try this adventure, there was no better place to do it than above the Rockies. A quick Google search showed me my skydiving options, and I made a call. Just like that, we were signed up to jump from a plane. I was really pumped.
I know that this is a very dangerous activity. I understand that there is a possibility that you have absolutely no desire to participate in a hobby during which you could fall a mile to the earth and die. What I do want more people to do is to actually sign up to do ‘that thing’ they’ve been talking about for years. I guess I’m not writing to the risk-takers. I’m encouraging the Bezus Quimbys and the Pam Beezlys and the Hermione Grangers of the world. I’m even writing to you who are risk-takers in your head, those of you who own never-crossed-off bucket lists.
I’m also talking to myself, as I have a propensity toward order and routine that lacks major change. But come on, we all have something lurking beneath that healthy conventionalism. Whatever that thing is that, if we never do it, we’ll look back and say, Why didn’t I? That thing is the thing we need to actually go and do next Saturday.
It’s been a few years since the skydiving expereince, but I still remember it vividly. It was worth the couple hundred dollars it cost (we didn’t get photos or video) even though it was a quick experience. First, they weighed us. Then we had to sign a bunch of papers. I’m usually not a proponent of the don’t-look-just-sign mindset, but a quick glance at the paperwork brought into focus the words ‘paralysis’ and ‘death’ and I decided not to look any further.
I leaned over to my husband and whispered, “Uh…don’t read it. Just sign.”
I was jittery, placated by the fact that my instructor had been skydiving for twelve years and did eight jumps a day. I mean, come on – what are the odds that after 2,920 jumps, this would be the one that would go wrong?
We were the first jump on a hot, clear July morning and our airplane was very small. My husband and I were packed in like sardines with the other people who had decided to jump a mile that morning. Once were were in the air, one of the skydiving instructors opened a sliding door because it was hot, and duh, when you’re cruising on a sweaty plane ride the obvious thing to do is to open a huge door right next to where everyone is sitting. I thought this was kind of terrifying and also really funny, a weird and slightly dysfunctional reaction I have to things that scare me.
I tried to pick the brain of my instructor, because come on, you have to be a super interesting character to have a career as a skydiving instructor, but he was very professional. He warded off my questions and was all about making sure I was comfortable and was going to have fun. I didn’t get to know anyone new that day, which was the only downside. I really love meeting new people and hearing their stories.
We were the last to jump, so I watched all the others, including my husband, leave the plane. When I got to the door, I screamed my head off, but I was also laughing. It was probably very confusing for the instructor to read how I was feeling about jumping. Then we jumped, and for about ten seconds I felt like I couldn’t breathe.
After a full minute of free-fall, he yanked open the parachute. Besides being rendered breathless by the view around me I remember thinking, “Oh, good. The parachute opened. We’re not going to die.”
It took five minutes to us float to the ground while my instructor gave me a very calm visual tour of the surrounding area from above, and it went by all too quickly. I spent most of that time laughing and cheering.
I do want to take a moment here to say that I’m not an extreme-sports kind of girl. I get scared. I like my order and structure. I like to know what’s coming and have it planned. Routine is nice.
But everyone has a bucket list.
I know there’s some item you can cross off.
I also know I’m not supposed to start a sentence with the word ‘but’.
But sometimes, It’s just so effective in getting me to what I need to convey even though I know it’s bad. Sort of like the occasional stop for fast food. I wouldn’t stop there every day or every every week, but hey, what’s it hurt on occasion?
Anyway, once you do that one awesome thing you’ve been carrying in your back pocket, you’ll realize just how many people are in the same shoes you were in before. You’ll hear this sentence over and over: “I’ve always wanted to do that.”
And you should tell them, “You should go do it!” Because then you’ll be super motivated to keep doing things that are out of your comfort zone. Once you push the envelope of ‘normal’ once, you’ll want to do it again and again.
Whether it’s some kind of volunteer work that you think about while driving home on your daily commute, or white-water rafting, or taking up hiking, or writing your own memoir, you should go do it. Just answer: I’ve always wanted to _____.
Then tell me about it!
I dare you.