I was thinking very carefully about what I was doing, using a metal shovel to remove piles of dirt that a gopher had created from the lawn.
It was basically the last thing that needed to be done – the floors were clean, the fire pit was stacked with wood, and our newly renovated backyard (now with a mountain view!) looked stellar.
We were hosting a fiesta in a few hours and I wanted the front lawn to look presentable, despite the all-out inter-species war taking place. We had done a nice job with the flower beds, but those damn gophers wouldn’t cut us a break.
It was then that I realized one of two things is happening: Either I’m really learning how to live in the moment or I’m becoming jaded (one of my biggest fears FYI).
Two hours prior I jumped out of an airplane from 13,000 ft, yet all I was thinking about were the piles of dirt – completely ignorant to the feelings of freedom I had just hours before.
To say I’m becoming jaded doesn’t make a lot of sense, considering I try to take a beginner’s attitude wherever I go and that skydiving is quickly becoming one of my favorite activities. Perhaps I’m learning to move on – to not let the current activity become swallowed up by the past or the future.
Saturday morning’s thrill ride wasn’t any less surreal than the first, but I felt very relaxed and calm and was able to process everything that was happening (I know that’s sort of contradictory – it’s a weird feeling – like a lucid dream or something). It was still absolutely insane – yet this time things seemed under control (most likely because I knew what to expect).
Something I picked up on: Everyone at Skydive Santa Barbara is extremely confident (and apparently a comedian).
One of our friends forgot to sign a spot on the contract, and the lady behind the counter smiled and pointed it out by saying, “You forgot to initial here by (the word) death.”
Then as we are free-falling at 120 mph I hear my guide say as he’s pulling the parachute, “All right, here we go. We might die.”
There are many other examples – tons of chatter on the plane ride up – and somehow this all made me feel comfortable. These people are so sure of themselves that they aren’t afraid to mess with you – which I guess is good?
Other things to remember:
Let your guide know if you don’t like spinning. Mine offered to teach me how to turn left and right in the air, and to control the parachute once it had opened – both awesome – but I had no idea the learning process would entail dozens of circles.
Some writers will tell you that there is no situation that can’t come across as alive on the page as it happens in real life. When you meet one, ask him if he’s been skydiving. I’ve got to be honest – I’m having trouble making it happen.
I can tell you how rickity the plane is, that your heart will drop when you see your first friend leave the plane, how it feels like you’re floating once you reach terminal velocity, that the view is spectacular if you can get comfortable and absorb it, what a nice feeling it is to look over and see that your friends’ parachutes have also opened, how the minute your feet hit the ground you’ll want to go again.
I like to remain concise, though, so I’ll just say one word instead: Go.