We are born with only two fears – heights and loud noises. These are wired into our brains and go back to ancient caveman times. A time when there was a danger of us being eaten by predators or falling off cliffs.
Any other fears we have, we “learn” over time. They seem real, but they are only in our heads. Sometimes facing the real fears can help us put the not so real ones into perspective.
Anyway, some time ago I jumped out of a perfectly good airplane, 3 miles in the air…
How did it start? This coworker of mine says he went skydiving last weekend, and of course now I am interested. I call up my buddy Andrew and say “Hey, I want to go skydiving. Interested?”. The next thing we know, we’re both signed up for jumping the same weekend. I hate heights, have never really enjoyed roller coasters and in NO way is this a good idea.
So the weekend arrives and we show up at the airfield all ready to go. We watch the training video, and the whole thing still doesn’t seem too scary. We get on the plane, all pumped up and excited – “We are going skydiving!!”. Then the plane goes up in the air, and we’re still going – “Yes!!! We are going to do this!!” and looking all bored.
Then the display in my hand reads 14,000 feet, the hatch opens up and the cold air starts rushing in…
And that is when the reality of what we are about to do hits me. “Oops!!”…
So I’m standing at the door, looking three miles down and trying to figure out where the landing spot is. I can feel the cold air rushing at me at an incredible speed. The sound of the air and the airplane engines is drowning everything else out. At this height, the landing field is the size of a postage stamp and I have absolutely no idea where it is.
I am scared out of my mind. I am not sure I want to do this any more.
Suddenly I am no longer on the plane and am dropping downwards at 200 miles per hour!! My evil instructor jumped off before I had time to get scared properly.
So there I am, flying straight down. And guess what? Gravity does work.
When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been and there you will always long to return.
Leonardo Da Vinci
The funny thing is, the jump wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. The scariest part of the skydive was the few seconds before I actually jumped out of the plane. The anticipation of the jump is worse than the jump itself.
Once you jump off, there is nothing more to really worry about. Its like the mind goes “Ah well. There is nothing we can do any more. So might as well enjoy the ride”.
The period of free fall during the skydive is the best part. All your natural instincts still telling you to stay alert since it is hardwired into your head. But your brain stops all silly chatter and starts watching and enjoying what is happening. It is the most peaceful you can ever be while still feeling an adrenaline rush. Scared, excited, and calm, all at the same time.
For those of you who hate roller coaster rides because of that weird feeling in your stomach? Great news. You don’t feel anything when skydiving.
I have gone skydiving a couple more times since then and taken a lot of my friends along with me. I recommend that everyone try skydiving at least once in their life. Even if you aren’t the kind of person who would normally consider it (I know I wasn’t).
Why? There is something about consciously facing one of your primal fears head-on that just frees you from inside. I would call it almost a spiritual experience. After facing this fear, all other fears fall into perspective.
Any time I feel scared, I tell myself “Hah! This is nothing. I jumped out of a plane” and suddenly the fear seems almost trivial and silly in comparison.
Since then, when doing something that scares me, I can ignore my fear as if it were a just a back ground alarm beeping in my head and nothing more. I do feel the fear, but I can do what I want to do anyway. I recognize the fear but no longer feel controlled by it.
It is like I have been set free from all my fears. And this is what I want everyone else to experience.
If you are considering skydiving, but are not sure about it, leave a comment about what is holding you back. Maybe one of the readers or I can convince you to take the plunge