Ready, Set, Jump
By: Faith Pearce
(5 min read)
Some will know a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to complete something I have wanted to do for a long time. I did a skydive…Woah, wait a minute, did I say skydive and yes. Amongst the significant changes I am going through, there have also been some extreme highs, literally.
The jump has been on my bucket list for a long time. I like to challenge myself because it shows what I am capable of and how far I’ve come. I also want to support charities, and this particular dive shined a spotlight on mental health at the same time. This jump was frankly very much like life, nothing is straightforward. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean there were issues, but I took the long path to complete it and needed a little support along the way.
When setting any goal in life, planning is so important, but life can throw curve balls along the way. When I originally booked the jump, I was nervous and rescheduled the date several times. Then I was made redundant and started a new job. Each time a new date was set, it required shifting my schedule and reinforming people. Again, the support of others helped me keep this commitment to myself.
When I am nervous about something, one of my coping mechanisms is to keep my mind active and in the present, so I don’t fall down a rabbit hole of internal thought, “WHAT ARE YOUR DOING?” Knowing that of myself, I strategically set aside productive busyness on the day of the jump. Organizing paperwork, getting my outfit ready, picking up the hire car, and lastly, all I needed to do was collect my daughter. She, on the other hand, wasn’t as focused.
She was at the end of her first week of University ‘freshers week’ and was feeling a little delicate. She missed her train and had to get a later bus, meaning she wouldn’t return to our hometown until 10 minutes after we were supposed to leave. So, I called the airfield, and they confirmed it would be ok to arrive a little later. Operation skydive was back on.
Whilst trying to remain calm and not get too annoyed, I collected my slightly hungover daughter from Greg’s with some of their finest pastries and set off. We followed the sat nav, and it was a beautiful day. I shouted excitedly when we were nearly there, “LOOK…you can see them.” My daughter obliviously looked at the fields, and I said, “NO….look…up there”. I could see four or five parachutes gliding down to the earth.
The check-in and training beforehand went smoothly, and I was paired with one of the finest Red Devils as my partner for the day, which put me at ease. Each step of the way, everything was explained and then repeated so I knew exactly what would happen and when. I felt completely confident and safe in putting my trust in my instructor. Finally, we boarded the plane and took off. As we climbed higher and higher, everything became white as we went through the clouds. A single parachutist who looked like he was in his 80s opened the door and, in one swift move, threw himself out. I was impressed and slightly concerned all at the same time. As I looked out the windows to see if I could see his parachute, I thought, did he really do that?
We continued to climb rapidly steeply to 11,000, then 13,000 feet. At this height, the clouds are seriously amazing. From the ground, they look flat, but they are anything but. They look like someone pulled a huge ball of cotton wool upward to make a cone-shaped funnel. I looked around at the six other people who were jumping with energy, full of smiles and fist bumps all around.
As the plane neared 15,000 feet, my goggles tightened around my glasses, and the panic hit me, omg we were so close now. I knew I would have to think about it now. My stomach came into my throat, and my lip began to wobble. My head and body stiffened as I tried to fight the process. To counter this, I told myself, “Breathe, come on, breathe. You can do this.” As we circled in the air, waiting for clearance to jump. My instructor loosened my goggles for a moment, and I felt a brief wave of relief and managed to calm myself.
But before I knew it, my goggles had tightened again, and we shuffled along this tiny bench toward the exit. It felt like an out-of-body experience though I could feel my feet dragging and pushing on the floor. No stopping, no going back, no delay. This was really freaking happening. The doors opened, and we both sat on the floor. I just let go of every thought and was 100% present. I thought this was something I wanted to do. I’m ready; let’s do this. In the doorway, I tucked my legs under the aircraft, tilted my head, and looked up.
This was the moment I had been waiting for. It was honestly nothing like I could ever have imagined. On the push out of the aircraft, it felt like we were floating as we spun for a few seconds and got the correct position. It wasn’t like a roller coaster with stomach-turning drops and an adrenaline rush. It was something so much more. For the next 60 seconds, we free fell to earth. Other than the wind being bitter on my face, it just felt like I was flying. I could see everything crystal clear, and there was a sense of calm and peace. It felt like an eternity, yet it was the quickest 60 seconds of my life.
The parachute was deployed at 4,500 feet, yanking us upwards and slowing our descent. After checking the perimeter, with the instructor’s guidance, he let me steer us in circles. As we spun around and around, I scanned the ground for a landmark to try and orient myself. It was fairly windy, and I was feeling giddy by this point. Finally, after a few minutes, we turned into the wind for the landing. I raised my legs, and the instructor executed a perfect landing. People ran towards us. I was unhooked, the parachute was collected, photographs were taken, and within a few minutes, it was all over. It almost didn’t feel real. There was so much to process.
After getting home, I sat silently staring at the wall in disbelief, thinking I was in an airplane today. I actually did a skydive and jumped out of a plane at 15,000 feet. I DID IT. I could have delayed, canceled, or found excuses. I could have panicked and quit. But instead, I pressed on, ultimately feeling free.
I sat there thinking about how often I use energy in an unproductive way—spending so much time and energy avoiding things, getting stuck in loops, and catching up on emotions from various situations. Sometimes we need someone else to walk alongside us until we are brave enough to jump on our own, but the most important thing is to keep moving forward and take risks. I wonder what I will do next?
All Things Wellness, LLC
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