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  • [originally written in November 2004.]
    Some of my friends who went are thrill seekers... they wanted to do it for the high. For me, it was about not being afraid. I have an intense fear of falling (it's not about heights for me so much as the uncontrollability of falling) and knew that jumping out of a hole out of the side of an airplane and hurtle toward the earth at more than a hundred miles an hour was one of the things I could probably never do. I was terrified. I have intense issues with control, am not very athletic, and get very motion sick. For me to do this was conquering fear by choosing to trust.

    For we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but who jump and are saved. :)

    It was a nice facility in San Marcos. We filled out 8 pages of legal forms and waivers and then sat in the sun out front in chairs and watched people jump. It was lovely. We weren't really nervous yet.

    They suited us up in these jumpsuits and harnesses really tight, with goggles to put over your eyes. All my instructor Jason told me before we left was that when we were ready, go and put my toes over the edge of the door of the plane. (that sounds easy - until you are more than two miles above the ground in a plane and you look out at the earth and a whole lot of air.) I told him I wasn't sure I could make myself jump out. "You are between me and the air," he said, "and I am going out, so you are coming with me." When you jump, he said, arch your back and kick up your feet. We would freefall for like 2 minutes, and when it is time to pull he would tap my shoulders again and I should grab my harness. Once we had a canopy it would be silent up there, and we could talk. Okay...

    The plane ride was fun. There are like 20 of us lined up on the straddle bench, with students in front and instructors behind. Susan kept taking pictures of everyone, and several of the instructors would make jokes to freak us out. A couple of the more experienced solo students went, then I would be the first tandem jumper. I watched the first ones just fall away into the sky and my heart almost stopped. I walked up to the door and closed my eyes - and I'm pretty sure Jason had to push me.

    And it was incredible.

    You are falling but you don't really feel like it... you are so incredibly high that you can't really tell. There is no depth perception happening, you have nothing to measure it by. You can see the curve of the earth across the whole horizon. It was such a beautiful day, clear and about 75 degrees and not a cloud anywhere. The pressure of the air is intense, but I had more presence of mind than I actually expected to.

    And all I could do was go God, you are so good, and this is so incredibly perfectly beautiful. and there is nothing like the experience of free falling to the earth and feeling at peace.

    Jason pulled the parachute, and the shock of it wasn't so bad. You are floating, and it's so quiet, and we could talk. Jason pointed out downtown Austin, and we could see so far in every direction. I watched Susan and Melissa and Daniel as their instructors were flying too. We swerved and steered and spiraled the parachute around.

    Landing wasn't hard. Jason said we had three options - to stand, to run, or to slide, and he would let me know. We tried to run but he sort of tripped on me, and my harness was tight enough that it was hard to walk in... so we weren't very graceful, but we were safely on the ground. I collapsed and just laid there, more than anything to regain some solidity. I was overcome. It was great. I got up and hugged Jason and thanked him so much... and kind of walked around with a goofy grin on my face.

    I couldn't believe that i jumped out of an airplane of my own free will and in fact paid a large sum of money to do it. If you buy another jump ticket the same day that you jump you get it for half price, and we all bought one. Who can do that and not be in love with it?

    Jimmy taught in the school about kicking your fear in the face, and this was one more step toward living in the moment, and being willing not to be in control. I can't wait to go again.
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