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The calmest I have ever felt

24 January 2011

Airplanes were purpose built to pick you up in one place and take you to another. Get on in one city, plane takes off, plane flies, plane lands, get off in another city. That’s how planes work.

Somewhere along the line, though, someone thought, that looks like a nice plane, I think I’ll start the standard process, but then jump out from 12,000 feet and end up where I started.

Skydiving has been on my To Do List for a long time. I’ve never been particularly concerned about where I landed when I jumped out of a plane, but I’d always heard that New Zealand was famous for it. I had plans to do it when I was here two years ago, but a separated shoulder and a trip cut short had other plans for me. This time around, the cards fell into place, I had an opportunity to jump, and my impending arbitrarily important 30th birthday seemed like the perfect excuse to do it.

As part of the Trek Travel New Zealand trip, we build in one day that is a bit of a “Choose Your Own Adventure” day in Wanaka, and I had a couple guests that were keen to go skydiving in the adrenaline capitol of the world. As a good guide, my only option was to go with them, right?

One of my guests did his best to freak me out: “You don’t have a wife and kids back home do you?” “Do you have anyone that relies on your income?” “You realize you could die right? What do I do if you die?” “Just in case, where are the van keys?” but for whatever reason, I couldn’t be shaken.

I kept waiting for the butterflies in my stomach, but they never came. The only moment that they were threatening was after the plane before mine took off and I was left sitting with my co-guide Jake, and the chaotic scene that had surrounded us completely disappeared, leaving us in a slightly disorienting silence.

I suited up in my jumpsuit and harness, walked out to the plane, climbed aboard and watched the ground disappear, and sat in perfect peace. Airplanes have always been my happy place. In all my traveling, they have been the one place that time is completely mine. When I’m in a plane, I can’t be emailed (I have actively resisted in flight WiFi), can’t get a phone call or text message. I can read; I can listen to music; I can watch a movie; I can sleep; I can do whatever I want, and you can’t tell me to do something different. This flight was no different.

We took off, and I just looked out the window and watched the incredible scenery of Lake Wanaka and the surrounding mountains unfold below me, completely calm. After a few minutes, we reached jumping altitude, and the door opened. Jake was the first one. I watched as everyone else pushed out into the cold air. I kept expecting to get freaked out at some point. Finally it was my turn to go, and I just slid into place, and out we went, following everyone else toward the ground.

After landing everyone was whooping and hollering, talking about what an incredible rush it was, talking about what the scariest part was, and I was just relaxed. I never got scared, but I never experienced the huge rush either. I was just calm. It was a level of calm that I’ve never experienced. It was incredible.

So there it is, checked off my list. I jumped out of an airplane, and I experienced a calm unlike any other.


One Comment
  1. Awesome! so glad you got to do this!

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