Monday, September 27, 2010

Free falling is anything but free

I kneeled in the plane overlooking the open world below me. I heard the snap of the buckle attaching me to the instructor with the parachute on his back. While I knew he was behind me, and as I assumed he didn't want his life to end on this day, I couldn't see him and could only hope that it was tightly fastened.The crammed airplane seemed to sputter in the air and its slow ascent in elevation seemed to turn a rambunctious crew of passengers into silently praying ones. If the intention was to put us in the most frighteningly small and ancient aircraft to inspire our bold descent out of it, it worked. I was desperate to jump.

In 2002 I was determined to go skydiving out of a plane. It was a late summer, or early fall, day in Snohomish, WA. I successfully gathered a crew of co-workers and friends at the time and orchestrated a trip I was determined would be life changing. I had been thinking about jumping for a long time, ever since my first love and high school girlfriend had told me of her tandem jump soon after our final break up some years earlier. It seemed to one-up me. Not only was she moving on to a new boyfriend back in CA while I was miserable in cold and rainy southern Oregon, but she was also pushing the envelope and expanding her horizons. She was the brave one. Here it was years later and I was determined to even the score.

What is it about break ups that inspire us to change our ways? Why do we do the things we wish we had done when we were in the relationship to begin with? This girlfriend was always so safe and passive, for her to jump out of a plane was completely out of character for her. While she was coping with our break and floating in the sky I was wallowing in my poor decisions. I seem to have the wallowing thing down. I've had my heart broken twice in my life. She was the first to do so. I even google stalked her a few years later after I moved to Seattle. She got married to the guy she started dating after me. Her life turned out exactly the way she used to talk about when we were together. She became a school teacher, he was a banker, she lived in San Luis Obispo. I'm sure they had a white picket fence and two kids. I'm not sure if I missed her so much as I envied her commitment to her life goals, and how she seemed to fulfill all of them. I was just a revolving part in her plan. Once I was no longer in the picture she just found someone else for the role. She was a director and myself just an actor in her life feature film. I also feel like I didn't fit the required bill for my last girlfriend as well. Maybe that is just my own insecurities talking, but I feel as though I didn't make the final cut. Perhaps the next guy auditioning will be the one that fills that role.

There is a feeling of complete emptiness as I fell from the sky. It was not life flashing before my eyes so much as my face getting pulled back by the g-force of me falling into the earth. My head cleared as I dropped. There was no time to think, just be, just fall. In the air there is nothing holding you up, there is nothing to hold on to. There is no balance. You fall, and fall, and fall...and then when you feel like you can continue falling forever the chord is pulled and you stop falling. Your heart is pounding so hard in your chest and your smile from the rush so intense that the world you peer down upon does look different. Your eyes see things differently. The colors more vivid. The air crisper, more invigorating. What I carried into that plane and into the sky now gone, replaced with gratitude, amazement, and wonder. Those were the same feelings I had climbing the summit at Havasupai.

I know that life has a plan for me, I still don't know what it is. I know that I'm unable to grasp the concept of fulfillment when I'm not sure what it is that will fulfill me. I do realize though that life can not be a free fall from a plane. That is an escape. It is a rush that can be revisited but it cannot be a lifestyle. Otherwise I will just rob banks, surf, and jump out of planes with Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves like in Point Break; I'll wear the Obama mask. No, life has to have balance and something to grab on to. It doesn't have to be perfect. It doesn't have to make sense to everyone. It doesn't need to be so damn structured and planned. And if this life of mine so far was planned then I'm a sick puppy. Obviously we control some aspects of our lives but we can not control them all. We just adjust and make do and overcome obstacles and keep a positive outlook on life. In the end it is not the possessions that we remember in our final breath but the life we saw unfold before our own eyes, even if the view was straight down from 12,000 feet.

No comments:

Post a Comment