It had been on my bucket list for years, but I froze when the opportunity was right in front of me.
Anytime I heard the word “skydive,” it sent a burst of excitement through my body. I knew that one day it was the kind of extraordinary leap of faith that I wanted to take, but I never imagined the day would actually come.
This past summer, my husband called me to say that his brother Jack had invited us to spend some time at the lake with his family. Jack is a professional skydiver, and he runs his own drop zone in Cushing, Oklahoma, which we would have the opportunity to visit over the course of our trip.
Oh crap, I thought to myself. Here I had been saying for years that I wanted to skydive and now the opportunity was here. Inside, part of me was leaping “YES!” and the other part of me wanted to backspace and delete all prior thoughts I ever had about jumping out of a plane. My mind raced from “YES” to “Absolutely NOT” and to every nook and cranny in between.
And then it happened. I landed on a firm and confident NO. I decided it would be careless and irresponsible for me, as a mother of two young boys, to take such a risk. What if something happened to me and they were left motherless?
Later I spoke with Kim, my business partner at Frame of Mind Coaching and my dear friend. When she heard that I wouldn’t be going skydiving, she asked “Is skydiving on your bucket list?” I hesitantly replied, “Well, yeah, I guess it was at one time”. She then said 13 words that I will never forget.
“What if your greatest responsibility as a parent is to live life fully?”
These words cut through all of my excuses and landed precisely on my heart. I have always felt committed to living life to the fullest, being courageous, and doing things that allow me to spread my wings and grow. I realized that by turning down the opportunity to skydive, I would be making a decision that was out of alignment with my values.
Kim’s words knocked down all of the fear long enough for me to pause and reconsider skydiving. In the coming days and weeks leading up to our trip, I’d remember my bigger purpose and I’d trust my instincts to make an aligned decision.
I’m not going to lie, I wrestled with bucket-loads of fear and the idea of being irresponsible over and over again.
Fast forward to four days into our vacation. We were boating, fishing, relaxing, and connecting. But, in the back of my mind the questions were relentless. Was I going to jump out of a plane? Was it the right thing to do? What would others think? Would I live? What if I died? And on and on and on.
The moment of truth had almost arrived. It was the last day at the lake and I had a very restless night of sleep, tossing and turning in my bed and in my mind.
The next morning, the family hopped into the car and drove four hours to the drop zone. My mind began racing and my stomach began churning.
In the midst of the uncertainty, a vision of a different kind began to surface. I began to imagine the parachute lifting, my feet hitting the ground, hugging my boys and husband, the smiles, the exhilaration, the storytelling, and the knowledge that I’d taken an ultimate leap of faith.
Once I imagined it working out, everything began to shift. Game on.
We spotted the drop zone from the road, a white structure with the words “Sky Dive” written in big, red letters. We circled around, parked the car and made our way to the front. The place was buzzing. People were sitting around on couches, watching and waiting for their loved ones to take the big leap. My eyes landed on the electronic listing of skydivers for the day. I had already been put on the schedule. One hour from then, I’d be making the jump.
The mental struggle was over. Excitement began to stir. They geared me up, goggles and all. I met my tandem jumper who happened to be a very normal looking dad. It was comforting thinking if a dad can be out there every weekend jumping, surely I could do it once. We hopped on the golf cart and headed for Jack’s plane.
Being Jack’s sister-in-law, I got “special treatment.” Not exactly the special treatment I was looking for: I got to sit in the co-pi seat of the plane while all the other skydivers piled in the back, and I soon found out that I would be going up a few thousand feet higher than the others to take my jump.
When my turn came, I was instructed to scoot out of the co-pi seat on my butt and inch my way towards the four-foot door that was WIDE open. My tandem was behind me and he buckled me in securely. He proceeded to put his hands on my shoulders and motioned to me that we would first lean out of the plane, then in and the 3rd time around we would literally fall out of the plane. It was in this moment that at last I surrendered completely and trusted…
Here we goooooooo!
Falling, falling, falling, fierce wind whipped the skin on my cheeks. I had no thoughts other than making sure my hands and feet were in the right position. No thought of when the parachute was going to open. I was just in it. And, then a sudden jolt – the parachute had opened! It was like a rollercoaster, floating and diving down to the ground. I saw my boys (all three of them) below watching and waving. Relief, exhilaration and aliveness set in and my feet hit the ground.
It turned out just as I had imagined in that one unique, extraordinary stream of thought.
I will never forget the complete uninhibited exhilaration and joy that filled my entire being. The physical sensation lasted for hours. The experience will stay with me forever and is a constant reminder to push through, to live in alignment and to take more leaps. The leap is actually nothing in comparison to the struggle and anguish that I created in my mind.
The leap is the easy part. And from here forward I vow to take more of them.
So what’s your next sky dive? It might be having that conversation you’ve been putting off with your spouse, leaving a job you know is draining your soul, or putting a stake in the ground for your next audacious goal. What’s the greater risk – taking the leap or betraying what is in your heart? You get to choose.
Contributed by Business, Life and Relationship Coach, Carla Reeves