I hear the plane climbing to altitude, aligning up for the drop and then drastically slowing down for the skydivers to exit the plane, only to speed up again right after.
Ah, such familiar sounds, such fond memories.
READY… we rock outwards, SET… we rock into the plane, GO… the six of us move as one body out of the plane and begin the sequence of formation skydiving… Whoosh!
The turbulence from the plane hits us as we exit, but we are expecting it and position our bodies accordingly to ride the wave.
Once we’re away from the plane there is nothing to relate to in regards to “falling” and instead there’s a sensation of flying… or floating. Only giveaway is the wind flapping in my face and clothes.
As I move my arms, legs and body, I can control whether I move forward, backwards, fall faster or slower…. or even go into a dive or make flips.
For 60 seconds or so we fall from 12,000 feet to 3,000 feet at approximately 115mph, while flying in different formations.
Time is a different animal here.
Once back on the ground we can talk about this one jump – these 60 seconds – for hours. That’s how intense – or extended – “time” is in a free fall.
I loved skydiving!
I didn’t realize it then, but what I loved was how it made me feel, what “happened” within me as I jumped out of airplanes some 200+ times.
When your falling at more than 100 miles per hour towards the ground and you only have 50 seconds or so to do the formations planned with your friends… there is no room for anything else. There’s no worrying about, longing for, frustration with, excitement to…. there is nothing but the present moment.
If I for some reason moved out of the present moment, I would totally lose control, tumble around, miss my cues etc. At that speed, there’s no room for hesitancy or doubt… you have to go right back to the present moment!
Without knowing it I was practicing being fully present… beyond emotions and thoughts… and I loved how it felt. I loved the peace, clarity and purpose that were so prevalent every time… along with a sense of “power”, a knowing that everything is possible and I am capable…. and I wanted it on the ground as well.
I didn’t realize it then, but I was also learning how to be courageous…
… how to keep going, doing what I need to do, regardless of what is going on in my body, mind or emotions… I was connecting with a greater aspect of that which I am.
I learned how to not be afraid of being afraid, to allow the thoughts and emotions to be as they are, and continue ahead anyway… and of course it spilled into my daily life, without me even noticing at the time.
During my course of more than 200 jumps I had my incidents and scares, some worse than others, one could have been fatal – and still I kept going, there was never any doubt.
Until there was no longer any need or desire to continue – what I unknowingly had been seeking through skydiving had become an innate part of my being and my daily life.
Skydiving made me aware of something grander than “me”… it was one of the most effective “spiritual” practices I had come across so far… even though I was not aware of that at the time…
… and yet, it was only the beginning, the preparation for a much deeper journey. A journey that would require all the courage I had gained, all the ability to stay present and have faith in myself.
More about that some other time.