I’ve imagined it a thousand times. My heart starts racing. The wind is blasting in my face. Then I jump, and my stomach flip-flops over and over again. I have dreamt about skydiving for a long time, despite my intense fear of falling. But I’ve been thinking a lot about fear, and it’s irrational nature. I’ve faced some pretty scary things recently- living alone in a developing country, suddenly losing my home and job, having a scarce amount of money, traveling alone through Africa- and whenever I start to stress out I just remind myself that there really is nothing bad happening at this moment. The only frightening situations are the ones created by my mind. I know many people who have skydived, and they all loved it. Raved about it even. That’s why I wanted to try it, after all. So what’s there to be afraid of?
The flight was fabulous, and the day was perfect. One minute I was gazing out at the ocean, and the next at the misty mountains stretching along the northern horizon. South Africa is incredibly beautiful. Once we reached 10,000 feet everything happened so quickly. The door opened and I did feel the wind in my face, but my heart wasn’t pounding as hard as I’d imagined. Then we jumped, and my stomach did not flip-flop. It was exhilarating and peaceful at the same time. It’s not like when you fall near the ground, because there is no fear of hitting something. The ground is so far away you just feel free, totally free. After the chute opens is the strangest sensation. There you are, in the middle of nothing. You look down at your feet, but there is nothing below them. The ground is still a thousand feet away, and you are floating along like a balloon.
Touching the ground was a relief, not because I was afraid, but because I had so many thoughts and emotions to digest. This new experience was unlike any other, and it is unlikely that anything will ever match it. Until, of course, I jump on my own.
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