Sunday, July 18, 2010

Be Not Afraid and Let Your Dreams Take Wing...

"Don't let the fear of striking out hold you back" - Babe Ruth
"Life is lived by the bold" - Ryan S.
"Fear is only in our minds" - Evanescence

For most of my life, I've let fear rule my choices. I've backed off and pulled away when it meant putting something, some part of me, on the line. About a year and a half ago, I lost a friend in a car crash. She was only 19 years old, and her life ended. Losing her made me realize that I couldn't go on the way I was, letting my fears control me and life pass me by.

Yesterday (Saturday, July 17) I decided to conquer one of my biggest fears - my fear of heights. I have no problem going up heights, that has never bothered me. But I have a HUGE fear of falling from heights. What was my plan to conquer that fear, you may be wondering. The answer is simple: skydive.

When I arrived at AtmosphAIR Skydiving Center in Fort Atkinson, I was feeling excited and completely terrified. The whole time, I couldn't stop giggling, I was so terrified. We had an hour of training to go over the equipment, how we can expect to feel when we are preparing to jump, and the procedures to follow in the plane and in the air.

The time finally came for me to get in the suit and harness and board the plane for the 12,000 foot ascent into the clear blue sky. As we we heading up, I felt like if I just reached out far enough, I could snag a handful of cloud. A couple guys jumped at around 6,000 feet. One of the guys was hot rodding on the plane, his body blowing in the wind while he hung onto the wing. We climbed another 6,000 feet, and then it was my turn.

I wish I could say I was brave for my turn, and I kind of was. There was no blubbering, no begging for the plane to return to the ground, but I did keep repeating "Oh my God!" over and over. Then Chris, my tandem instructor, opened the plane door and I realized just how high 12,000 feet really is!

Chris kept telling me to step on the metal step outside the plane and put my hands on the harness. Only, my left hand had a mind of its own. Every time he moved my hand to the harness, it just went right back to that plane door! I remember thinking "wait, if my hand isn't on the plane door, then what will I hold on to? I'll fall!" Yes, I know, falling is the point, but my subconscious wanted to take over.

Next thing I know, I'm flipping backwards out of the plane and plummeting toward Earth at 120 miles per hour, falling about 60 feet a second! I was free-falling for about a minute before the parachute opened.

Despite everything: the speed, the height, falling and trusting that parachute to open correctly, I felt no fear after I was out of the plane. Once I was actually in the air, all I was thinking was "this is completely amazing!" I could actually see some of Madison's lakes! Even if I wanted to, I couldn't stop laughing! It was the absolute most exhilarating moment of my life! I found myself not wanting that free fall to end, and when I went down on the ground, I wanted to do it all over again! I can't help but feel that should I do it again, I would have no problem jumping out of that plane.

Until next time, may all your dreams take flight and your heart be light.

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