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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.

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