I Learned to Fly

It took 25 years and a lot of procrastination, but I did it. I soared through the air like a bird, above all the troubles and struggles I’ve ever known. It was magic.

As any sane person would be, I was nervous. The thought of stepping to the edge of a plane at 13,500 feet in the air and jumping goes against every survival instinct gifted by evolution. A tiny part of me wondered if I would wimp out.

The plane crept higher and higher into the sky, and my heart began to pound. It occurred to me what a ridiculous thing I was doing, what an unnecessary risk I was taking. Halfway up, a student of solo-jumping crawled right up to the plane door, slid it open, and threw himself out with zero hesitation. My mouth fell open and the full realization of what I was doing hit me.

Before I had time to panic, my tandem instructor was lifting me to my knees and strapping us together like a mother and baby kangaroo. This was happening. We scooted awkwardly on our knees to the very edge of the plane until the wind slapped my face and the Earth stretched far below. I looked down. Instead of being overtaken by fear, I cracked the biggest smile of my life.

Next instant we were falling. And then I was flying.

I stretched my arms out (further then regulations allowed) and felt myself gliding through the clouds. The stomach-dropping sensation I was expecting never came. The sensation was more akin to rapidly descending floating. I’m told I fell for 60 seconds, but to me it seemed closer to 10 seconds.

When my instructor pulled the chute, my ears were deafened for about 20 seconds. Our plummet was tugged to a halt. I couldn’t hear a word, and could only look at the skies in front of me. The 7-minute glide back to Earth was fill of spins, turns, and “oh my god”s.

My feet finally hit the ground, and let me tell you I felt like a Superhero. There is nothing I’m afraid of anymore, nothing I won’t try. Shark cage, scuba diving, bungee jumping… taking a risk and leaving a safe job, a safe city… letting go of bad habits… choosing to love myself…

If I can look down from 13,500 feet and actually jump, why can’t I do all those other things? There’s a fire in me now, a confidence, that wasn’t there before. I’m not surprised. I always knew I was meant to fly.

In fact, my next jump is already booked. See you in the sky!

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