What is Fear?
It’s really just an obstacle that prevents us from achieving our dreams. An illusion we create to make excuses for not trying new things. Is it really fear or excitement?
I always had a fear of heights and falling. Not sure if it’s that stomach-dropping feeling, not being in control, fearing pain, death? I remember hating when someone threw me in the air, tossed me overhead into the ocean, or pretended to drop me from a high altitude. (Okay it was only a few feet but still).
I hate roller coasters. I can do most of the slides at the water parks but spinning things? Freefalls? Upside down rides? Ah, no.
I receive a note in my mailbox the other day that I had a surprise present waiting for me on Sunday. Reservations were made and were nonrefundable. P.S. It would be the best five minutes of my life. I knew right away what it was.
Listen, when I lift weights, I don’t sweat. Thinking about my upcoming Sunday plans, I needed an entire bottle of anti-perspirant for the palms of my hands alone. .
I told this person specifically I NEVER want to do this ever. Ever! You know how people have bucket lists? This is not anywhere on that list but I do have a list of things that I NEVER want to try and skydiving is on the very TOP of that list.
I couldn’t do it. There was no way. Me, afraid of heights, falling, death! I tried not to think about it but a co-worker suggested I look it up online. I did. And I read a post by a man that said the freefall was only about 45 seconds, the next 4 minutes involved floating slowly down on a parachute. He said you can’t feel yourself falling because there is no depth perception when you are up that high. You can feel wind blowing in your face, your ears, but nothing to suggest that you are actually falling.
I had parasailed years ago in Mexico and loved that. I pictured the scenery around me, the leisurely gliding in the air. The more I read, the more I watched on Youtube, the calmer I became.
Everyone I told stated they could never go skydiving. But for some reason, this calm numbness overtook me. Could I do the one thing I feared more than anything? Why wasn’t I nervous? When would the panic kick in?
The day arrived
On the day of the flight, the calmness continued. It was weird, but for some reason the fear of boarding a tiny plane, jumping out in the middle of nowhere 13,500 feet up, freefalling…dying, it wasn’t there. Why?
As the time neared, my excitement grew. Waiting for two hours to board made me want to get on with it already. When it was our turn, the numb feeling continued. The man attached my harness, I said good-bye to my daughters, jumped on the tiny plane that held only twelve passengers, and up in the plane I went.
I noticed immediately that they sat me a foot away from the door. The door that was wide open during the entire ascent. Did this mean I was to jump first? Yes.
The instructor I was harnessed onto had me gaze out the window at the gorgeous scenery and I saw familiar sites: Splish Splash Water Park, Tanger outlets, and even the skydiving facility that my children waited for me at. When it was time to jump, I saw how truly high up we were.
Could I do it?
This was the moment. I tried to remember all the positive things I read. Fear still escaped me. I wondered if this was how it felt the moment before you died. Knowing that peace awaited you. If you let go of any negative thoughts, there is no more fear, anger, sadness, hate. Only peace.
The video we watched before boarding said that we would most likely sit down on the edge of the plane, let our feet dangle, countdown, and then jump. My instructor eased me to the door and then BAM! Out the door I went before I had a moment to think. There was no sitting, no countdown, just an immediate jump.
I promised myself I wouldn’t close my eyes but out of habit, that’s exactly what I did. Those first two seconds blew my mind. Not sure if I actually felt the fall or my brain made me imagine what it would feel like but before I could comprehend what happened, that was it! I just jumped out of a plane. He tapped my shoulder to let me know I could let go of my chest straps and I let my hands fly out.
And that was all. Two measly seconds of terror and then hovering. I didn’t feel like I was falling. The scenery, the view, was spectacular. My instructor gave me a thumbs up, a high five and I only felt the wind soaring past my ears.
After about forty-five seconds he pulled the cord and I shot back up into the sky. Then there was silence. Beautiful silence. No noise pollution, just calm. He removed my goggles for me and loosened my chest straps a little. I saw the other parachuters around me with their blue and purple and green chutes. The landing area, so clear below me, I spotted my older daughter Ashley right away in her blue T-shirt and shorts, her cell phone held high, videoing us.
I didn’t want it to end. I thought how fast it went, how addicting it could be, I actually wanted to redo that initial two seconds and keep my damn eyes open.
I wondered why I was initially so frightened. Why I refused to try this in the past. What was stranger was why I was so calm all week. I went from complete panic, to intrigue, to this pleasant serenity and then excitement. I actually wanted to do it.
It makes me wonder again, why our brain works against us. Once I dismissed all my preconceived notions and only thought about the wonderful aspects of it, there was no fear. You have to control your mind, it should not control you. It also helps to have people around you that not only support you, but push you.
This is definitely something I’d do again. As I write this, I can hear a plane outside my window and that hum of the engine will never sound the same. It has new meaning to me now.
Here’s a sample video from where I skydived to get an idea: Click Here
What fears do you have? What are your greatest fears? Have you conquered any of them? How did you conquer them and what did it feel like afterward?
Let me know. I love hearing your stories!
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