Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear—not absence of fear.
— Mark Twain
Riddle: What moves 120mph in only one direction, and if it stops without help, it dies?
Answer: A skydiving Teeny.
Yes, that’s correct. On Wednesday of this week, I jumped out of a plane (and, no, that is not a play on words like I jumped out of some kind of geometrical plane). I jumped out of a flying airplane with nothing other than a parachute and a hippie strapped to my back.
Why the parachute you ask? Well, I’m somewhat fond of my intestines and my other vital organs being where they are. The hippie was just for the hell of it.
But actually, there was a man strapped to my back—the skydiving instructor with over 14,000 jumps on record—that was there to pull the cord and make sure I didn’t die and all.
Now, on the plane ride up, I wasn’t too nervous. There were ten of us in the single-engine airplane, all sitting single file on foam benches in the cleaned out interior. I and my instructor were in the back of one of those lines, my brother and his instructor in the line to my left.
And as soon as the wheels of the plane abandoned the ground, I gave thanksgiving that I had remembered to use the bathroom before we boarded.
The flight up was slow but beautiful, the day we had chosen being the bluest and brightest of the week. We could even see downtown Portland once we got up there though we were 45 minutes south of it.
At first, a team of butterflies strapped on helmets and held their division one college football championship in my stomach, but after I had said my due prayers (one to God, another to Buddha, and one to Chuck Norris–what can I say, I was a little scared), the plane leveled off.
The light above the slide away door turned green.
Suddenly, one of the six guys in front of us yanked the door open, the Olympus air rushed in, and the guys in front of us all positioned themselves around the door.
“One…two…” And then they were gone. Woosh. Right out the plane and into the cold, empty, nothing-but-gravity-and-space-and-some-really-hard-stuff-at-the-bottom air. My stomach immediately joined them with their descent.
But it was too late to back out now. My instructor was moving us toward the one exit of a plane flight attendants have been training me to use all my life. And suddenly, I regretted never paying attention to them.
The next thing I know, my legs are dangling outside of the plane, dangling above thousands of feet of nothingness. He taps my shoulder three times, my body assumes the perfect jumping out of an airplane stance (aka terror), and he gives us a push.
And well, it’s difficult to capture in words, the thrill, the excitement, the surreal experience of it all except through saying, “holy crap, holy crap, holy crap.” And when the parachute kicked out and we floated gently down, the beauty, the grandiosity, the amazingness, could only be explained through, “holy crap, holy crap, holy crap.”
The whole experience, to put in the most understated understatement, is this: it was truly incredible. But the only way to properly express it to you, is, well, to recommend you go out and try it for yourself.
A little bit fearlessly,