I didn’t sleep much at all the night before our skydive. The following morning I practically ran to my yoga class in desperate need of relief from my racing mind, continually envisaging myself falling from 10,000 ft in a state of terror.
I did manage to get some relief and had a great class, focusing on my breath and keeping my mind with me on the mat for the most part. When I returned home, I felt the fear returning, so I burned some cleansing Copal incense and took out my notebook.
I needed to write a new story for myself; to do away with the old one I’d been re-telling myself for too long.
I had to physically write out the following words (among others):
“I am courageous, strong, brave and adventurous. I no longer live in fear, guilt or shame. The world is BIG. Today marks the end of an era and the beginning of a new one. I believe in myself. I am FREE.”
I re-read my new story and knew it was the truth. In fact, it was more true than the old one I had believed for so long. It was believing I was afraid that held me back from being me, from accepting myself and fully embracing life.
Old ideas and old beliefs I had outgrown without realising.
I was still quivering like a bowl of jelly for the next few hours while we tried to fill the time before our early afternoon jump.
But once I was actually on my way (I was first, thank God!), the fear disappeared.
Yes, it disappeared.
The tiny plane took off as smooth as silk over the turquoise Caribbean Sea, revealing the spectacular coastline below. Immediately I knew this was always meant to be, taking my biggest literal leap of faith in a part of the world I had come to love so intensely.
As well as an overall feeling of apprehension and excitement, a bizarre underlying feeling of calm spread through me as we climbed 10,000 feet in the air. I looked out through the window observing cotton-ball clouds at eye level and then down at the sea; the coral reef spreading itself like a dark blue ink stain through the aqua water.
When the plane door banged open, I felt nothing but relief that it was finally happening.
Stepping out onto the ledge I would be falling from, I just focused on placing my right, then left foot as instructed by Gilmer, the cool-as-a-cucumber guy I was strapped to.
I didn’t look down though.
And then, tumbling off the step of the moving aircraft; the deafening WOOSH! of moving through space at high speed; the most surreal, exhilarating feeling of which I have nothing to compare it to, before being steadied out and pummeled from underneath by a thousand air-filled boxing gloves, giving me the most FUN half-minute I have ever experienced in my life.
I didn’t think, I didn’t take in the view, I just had an absolute blast, completely in the moment with no concept of time or space or even thought, just the abstract notion of “Yee-fucking-ha!” as pure joy ripped through my mind and body.
I forgot about Gilmer, the man who I had entrusted my life to, and just focused on ‘my best buddy’ Gonzo, the camera guy who I simply loved so much in that moment (sorry Tyrhone!); my only reminder of humanity as we fell through the air together.
I wish there was more to say. Tyrhone gave a great, in depth account of his experience, which was vastly different than mine. Taunee, his younger sister who is visiting us here in Playa del Carmen, had a completely different experience again.
I wish there were more words for fun, but that tiny three letter word best sums up my first ever skydiving experience, the very experience that had me in a state of mild insanity for a week before (and certifiably insane the day before). I’m glad I documented the experience as it happened, without filtering my heightened emotion and everything it brought up for me.
I hope it encourages someone who experiences similar levels of exaggerated fear to move through to the other side.
Because let me assure you, the other side is so spectacularly sweet.
Take a look at my video: (http://vimeo.com/66900027)
Thank you for helping me write a new story for myself.