Landing on My Feet
A true experience of mind over body. We can either limit or unleash our own abilities by our own belief systems. Believing we can do it and committing our hearts will allow us to make our dreams come true. Don’t be afraid, just do it.
As a child I had always been afraid of doing anything involving height, speed, diving, jumping, or the possibility of falling or drowning. These fears were inherent. I didn’t want to be afraid, I just couldn’t help it. Sometimes this fear really put limits on what I could do. I hated my fear.
I remember being about eight years old and my mother signed me up for swimming lessons. I was terrified. I had nightmares every night anticipating the lessons. I was afraid of drowning. Now this fear was totally ridiculous for someone born under the sign of Pisces. A fish should love to swim; at least one should know how to swim. Obviously, I didn’t drown because I am still around to tell the story. But my experiences in swimming lessons didn’t help me overcome my fear at all. It just increased it. Being thrown into the deep water doesn’t mean you will come out a swimmer as I well proved.
The only thing I can remember attempting to do and not being afraid of doing it was learning to ride a two-wheel bicycle. I mastered that rather quickly, and I loved to go fast. Granted, I did have some fear of crashing or falling off my bike, and it did happen occasionally.
I was totally fearful of amusement park rides. You know the big ones that were high up in the sky and went real fast. I would stand in line forever waiting for a turn on the scariest ride at the park. I would almost pee my pants I would be so scared. It would almost be my turn, and I would chicken out. There was no logic in where my fear appeared. I went through these types of episodes throughout my first 37 years of life. I didn’t always bail out. Sometimes, I would beat my fear and get on the ride only to have a whole lot of fun and want to do it again.
This all changed the day I went tandem skydiving. Tandem skydiving straps the instructor on top of the student with special gear so that both have access to the controls of the chute. This way, if a student freezes up due to fear or passes out completely while making the jump, the instructor has full control of the chute.
I had committed myself to making a tandem jump two months before the actual day of the jump. I had mentioned to Linda, who I worked with, that I would like to jump out of an airplane. The next thing I knew I was making a promise to Linda to make the jump with her. Linda had been skydiving for years. Two other gentlemen from our office had also agreed to go. I didn’t know either one of them well enough to jump to my death in their presence.
I mentally prepared myself for these two months. I would see myself making the jump, visualizing every imaginable part of the jump. I prayed for my fear to vanish from my very soul, so that I would be able to make the jump. I wanted to do this for myself. I was determined not to let myself down. Can you imagine sitting in the small plane all alone after everyone else has jumped? I simply did not want that to happen to me. I was going to put together all the personal strength I could find. If this jump were really going to happen it would have to be through personal strength, spirit, and the will of God.
June 25th, 1996 was finally here. The day of the jump. Linda had called to tell me she couldn’t make the jump due to a family emergency. My first response was not to jump either. I had to do this for me. I could and I would do it alone.
We were supposed to be at Airport #2 at 8:30 that morning. We would attend an Accelerated Learning Process class that would teach us all we needed to know in order to make that first jump. This process took approximately an hour and a half. We were scheduled to jump at 10:00 AM. Because of the high traffic our jump was postponed for a later time. I was ready to jump at 10:00 AM. I didn’t want to wait. I was ready now! They would call us when they were ready to gear us up and load the plane. This turned out to be a 3-hour wait. A 3-hour wait. Pure mental torture.
Finally, they helped us into our jump suits and prepared the gear. I was getting really nervous, like peeing in your jump suit time. The crew was great. They tried to make us feel as comfortable as possible. I just tried not thinking about it anymore. I was ready to make this jump, and I was going to do it no matter what. No matter how fearful I really was.
There were three novice jumpers each accompanied by an instructor, the pilot, and a jumper with a video camera. We all loaded the small King Air with no seats. I would be the first one to jump right after the guy with the video camera. After all, if I was going to survive I wanted proof. We all sat very quietly. The door was open the entire flight. We would jump at 10,500 feet.
I don’t really remember thinking about much while I was in the plane. My mouth became extremely dry. When it was time to jump my instructor prompted me. I recall standing at the edge of the doorway counting ONE, TWO, THREE ARCH! Then I was free falling ever so quickly. I had done it. I had actually done it. I jumped out of the plane. The chute opened, and I felt it stop our free fall. It was like being a bird flying over and above