First off, a big thank you to everyone who took the time to see my post yesterday and leave some comments and Yoors love! It was a nice surprise being the winner of the pool, which also means that the #yoorsjanuary2021 challenge for today is the one I suggested:
"Make a post about something you learned/tried for the very first time that you think brought something valuable to you and/or others."
Of course, I must now take my own challenge and tell you about the first time I went skydiving.
I remember it well. It was at my 30th birthday dinner party, some years ago, that I made the decision to try it. I wanted to enter the decade with a bang, and the idea of finally going through with this particular wish I’d had for a while seemed like the perfect way of doing it.
Hitting 30 was a bit of a defining moment for me. In my mind, it’s always been that age where one ceases to be a young adult and definitively transitions into full-blown adulthood. This may explain my sudden determination to jump off an airplane: if I was going to be a “real” adult now, then I wanted this action to define the kind of adult I was going to be.
The prospect both excited and scared me, but as you might know about me by now, I do love a good challenge. So that very night I announced my plan to my friends, and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that two of them had the same wish and were willing to do it with me.
Some months later, we got together in a car and drove down south, to Alentejo, where the skydiving school was. One of my friends couldn’t join us for the jump after all, but she decided to still come along for moral support. The car ride was fun, though full of jitters.
One thing I'll never forget was, upon arrival, reading the school’s motto, which was on display in a poster they had at the front office:
"The sky is not the limit. It’s the starting point."
Brilliant, I thought! It was exactly the kind of adventurous and positive spirit I was after.
We started off with an introduction and brief on-land training, where we learned how to position our legs, how to hold the parachute straps with our hands and how to react during the first few confusing seconds after we had jumped into thin air. Naturally, as first-timers, we weren’t going to jump all by ourselves. We would each have an instructor taking the dive with us. But it was still important to know the basics before take-off, because it helps everything run smoothly once the time comes for the real deal.
Then we got into our skydiving suits, hooked the harnesses binding us to our instructor and hopped on the tiny plane that would take us up for the jump. After take-off, I could feel the mad pounding in my chest. There was no turning back now! However, I was determined to make it an enjoyable experience, rather than a stressful one. So I kept chatting lively with the instructor and telling my brain how much fun this was going to be. I kept a big grin on my face the entire time.
And the strategy did work. When the jump came, I remember the adrenaline rush, the overbearing force of the wind rushing against me, the initial unsettling feeling of trying to catch my breath. They had told us to scream right after the jump, because apparently screaming helps clear your lungs and allow the air in. So I belted it out as hard as I could, and all the while kept repeating in my head: "This is awesome! This is AWESOME!" And so, it was.
That day, I saw first-hand how the way we choose to think about an event is a big factor in determining the kind of experience we'll have. This is not to say that we can make it all perfect. In fact, once the free-falling part was over and we began to slowly float through the air in wide circles, making our way to the ground, I started to get really nauseous. I knew I probably would. The sense of balance in my inner ear is quite delicate, and motion – especially circular motion – always affects me quite strongly. So there was discomfort, to be sure. For two hours after the jump I had to avoid moving my eyes around, lest the need to throw up would overtake me (not fun in a car ride!)
Nevertheless, I was crazy happy that I went through with the whole thing. The experience of the free fall itself was amazing, the sense of accomplishing a dream of mine left me in great spirits, and having a bird's eye view over the land below, on a clear day, when your eyes can see for miles... just wow! Best of all, I got to do it all in the the company of great friends and to share the adventure with them.
What about you, have you ever tried skydiving? What was the experience like?
Last thing, my challenge for tomorrow: I second Dana's wonderful idea, which you can read at the end of her post.
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