I wanted to do something extraordinary to mark my 25th birthday. By extraordinary, I mean a remarkable experience that I can proudly look back to many years from now. I couldn’t think of anything better than jumping off from a perfectly good airplane. It’s been but a couple of days since, and I can truly say that I achieved my birthday goal. What a way to celebrate!
I was the first passenger on the plane and was beyond excited when I was told that I get to sit on the co-pilot’s chair. Yes – the best seat in the house! That was an experience in itself. The ascent towards the sky from the front seat was spectacular. This distracted me for a little while until I received the signal from Donovan, my instructor, that it was time.
The dive kicks off with a countdown: 1, 2, and Oh My God. The free fall from 13,500 feet to about 5,500 feet was the “extreme” part of the whole experience for me. It was a sensory overload. All at once, I was trying to take in the speed (about 120 mph), the cold (it felt like it was 25 degrees), the sights (amazing!) and the uneasy thoughts about my sister (who is afraid of heights) who jumped right after me. It was hard to breathe. There was no escape from it. I had no other choice but to take it all in and it was exhilarating! To top the free fall experience off, I consider myself SO lucky to fall through a large cumulus cloud. It was unreal! I literally gasped with delight when I disappeared into the white. As soon as we left the cloud, we deployed the shoot and the rush became calm. It was time for the canopy flight back to solid ground. I enjoyed this part of the dive because this was when it hit me that I did it. I did it! I was so proud of myself. The descent was peaceful and this was when I really enjoyed the scenery from above. And then it all ended with a smooth landing, a high five, and a big smile on my windblown face.
One of the most valuable lessons that I take away from this experience is the significant difference that follow-through makes. I can think of several instances in the past wherein I would make a confident resolve to do this and that and then easily abandon the resolve altogether. I would draw an excuse or a justification from what seems to be a bottomless hat. The fact of the matter is, the one I hurt the most in this exercise is myself.
So here’s to being tough enough to follow through! When the urge to make an excuse comes creeping in, just think of one of the best slogans ever made – Just Do It!
When: May 9, 2010