Skip to main content

Skydiving


This is the moment, this past Saturday afternoon, they did something you normally don't want someone to do, which is to open the door of an airplane at 10,000 feet above ground:  


As part of the on-ground training, they instruct you, when you get to this point in the jump, to keep your hands in the "safety position," which involves grasping little loops near your chest. They are VERY clear about this in the on-ground training. They even make you practice it. 

But it turns out that when a door of a plane pops open at 10,000 feet above ground, your instincts take over and you start trying to grab at something. Anything. I guess we're hard-wired not to willingly fall out of airplanes. So the professional who you are wearing on your back slaps your hand, and you remember your training, and you grab your little loops. He swings his legs out, which means you swing your legs out. Because you're spooning. 

A few moments later, 

feelings of vertigo mixed with thoughts of 1) "holy sh-- what WAS I thinking," and 2) "did all four of the metal buckles attaching me to this guy with the parachute really 'click' or are we going to be separated?" give way to a sense of exhilaration.
You free-fall from 10,000 feet to about 5,500 feet. You're going 120 miles an hour. It's like the fastest, scariest, most intense roller-coaster ride you've ever been on. Except without being pressed into a seat, and without the safety restraint bar to hold onto. And no real sense of when the ride will end. And there's only two of you. And no track to look ahead to that allows you to anticipate what's next. And you're completely dependent, for your survival, on the guy you're wearing like a backpack.  
He's the one who has the parachute. He's the one who knows he has to pull the cord to activate the parachute at exactly 5,500 feet.
Once he pulls it, and the canopy explodes open above you, things get quiet, and peaceful. You're just floating. You can see horizons in every direction. This goes on for five or six minutes. You have a strong sense that you're going to make it back down to earth, where you wait for your daughter, who is going to land just 30 seconds later. And after you kiss the ground, you hug and kiss your daughter, and thank her, for including you in her 18th birthday wish.

Popular posts from this blog

If there's a will, there's a way.

For Lent, I was thinking of doing the typical fasts: fast from Facebook and take up reading, fast from petty vices like overindulging in sweets and alcohol and take on moderation, yada yada yada.
But I'm re-thinking that this year.
What I'm fasting from this Lent is discouragement. That means cutting back on what is so often the source of discouragement, which is a tendency to gorge on, or dwell on, bad news.
(Let me be clear: that does not mean giving up news or otherwise burying my head in the sand: it means staying informed while finding ways not to get pulled into a downward spiral of feelings of numbness and helplessness; it means giving up unproductive feelings like hopelessness and resignation and taking on visible behaviors like giving encouragement and taking action.)
It means making visible -- here, on my blog, and even on Facebook -- the good.
Because the problem is -- to paraphrase the community organizer Rich Harwood -- a lot of times we see "good news stories…

Fasting from Discouragement, Making Visible the Good

So for Lent, I was thinking of doing the typical fasts: fast from Facebook and take up reading, fast from petty vices like overindulging in sweets and alcohol and take on moderation, yada yada yada.

But I'm re-thinking that.
Now one of the things I'm thinking about fasting from during Lent is discouragement. That means cutting back on what is so often the source of discouragement, which is a tendency to gorge on, or dwell on, bad news.
That would mean taking on encouragement: to make visible -- even on Facebook -- the good.
Because the problem is -- to paraphrase the community organizer Rich Harwood -- a lot of times we see "good news stories" as being quaint -- they are tossed in at the end of the news as an inspiring story, or put in the style section. But stories of good things happening -- people coming together to do things, is not a touchy-feely, feel-good story, but something affecting real change.
So for starters: I'm inspired by the leadership example of…