The training was jovial, collegiate, dare I say laughable. We’d learned to count, keep our arms close to our bodies, and our knees together. We’d tried on the jumpsuits, felt the silk, hefted the weight.
Now, just 3 hours later, the perfectly serviceable airplane seemed like a great place to be – the ground, 1,200m below, less attractive.
I was in my early twenties, no thoughts of my mortality, a bit of an adrenaline junkie. I’d needed very little persuasion to join my engineering colleagues on a static line parachute jump.
The question was, would I jump?
Would I let go of safety?
Would I show my colleagues I was brave?
Would I splat and die?
It was incredibly noisy in the little Cesna; the drone of the engine, the wind rushing in through the open door. I could smell the fear (I’d eaten beans on toast, don’t judge me).
The pilot signaled to our instructor that it was time. I was pushed into the jump space.
I was number 1. The other 3 guys were waiting behind me, all squished up on the floor, knees to their chins.
I really didn’t want to exit.
I could see between my dangling feet fields and cows, roads and rivers, death and destruction.
I was hypnotised, paralysed, suspended.
I wasn’t ready. I couldn’t do it. It was too risky.
I needed one last impulse, something to break the spell so I could cross the chasm.
The instructor looked me in the eyes, smiled, and rubbed his groin against my hand – and that was it, I was out with a shout.
I’ve done a lot of ‘stupid’ things, sometimes more than once.* I’m almost never ‘ready‘.
I wasn’t ready to start a business in 1996.
I wasn’t ready to hire staff.
I wasn’t ready to fire staff.
I wasn’t ready to sell my part of the publishing business I grew.
I wasn’t ready to write a book.
I wasn’t ready to be a coach.
I wasn’t ready to move to Spain.
I wasn’t ready to help other people write books.
I wasn’t ready to outsource.
I wasn’t ready to ride (fall off) a horse.
I wasn’t ready to launch my membership.
” It’s not about whether you’re ready – or not…
… it’s about how committed you are to reaching the outcome.”
The outcome I was hoping for on the parachute day was a safe landing.
The chute opened. Yay! I stopped cursing the dickhead instructor, and marvelled at the landscape. It was sooooooooooooo quiet. I could see for miles. I was completely alone. I couldn’t smell anything.
My peace was interrupted as the one-way radio crackled in my ears, “Left hand down number 1, left hand down.”
I was number 1.
My minutes of training kicked in. I followed the instructions and took hold of the chute handles for steering so I could head to the big X marked out in the landing zone.
I forgot (as I often do) which was my left and which was my right. I went right, in a big lazy circle. I could see my colleagues heading off in the other direction, getting further away. I circled right again. Further away. Why was I circling? The radio shouted in my ear: “Left hand down number 1, L E F T hand down.”
I landed in a field a couple of kilometres from the big X. I finally released my unconscious death grip on the right handle, got up off the floor, and rolled up my chute. On wobbly legs, I waited for half an hour for the Land Rover to come and fetch me.
I’d done it. I’d done a static line parachute jump. I’d got my outcome and landed safely.
You know, even if you land in a different field, you still made the jump.
Have a fabulous life, ciao for now,
* A year later I did a tandem jump from 4,500m (with a different skydiving company) and we landed on the big X because I didn’t have to do any steering.
PS: What’s stopping you from making the jump? Do you need a helping hand? Do you need some help with the steering? Let me know, I promise not to molest you.