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The thrill of the fall

John Tierney | Wednesday, February 28, 2007

I love the feeling of skydiving. I love the freedom that I get up in the air. Jumping’s scary. When I jump out of that plane, I struggle to do it at first. I look down and see how big the fall can be, and wonder what’s the worst that can happen. I quickly realize that the worst thing that can happen is something that kind of sucks. I could die. But honestly, what are the chances of that? I’m not really sure, but I know that they’re pretty slim. I’m much more likely to break something – my leg, my arm, my skull, who knows what else.When I first jump out of the plane, I’m scared. I think … what’s going to happen to me? What all can I break? What all will I break? Will I still have a skull? What it still be intact? Will they be able to fix everything I break? But then, after a little while, I calm down, which is hard, considering I’m still thousands of feet up in the air and there’s still no way of knowing if I will land safely. But I realize that I can’t enjoy the skydiving experience (and, obviously, I’m up there because I want to enjoy it) if I don’t just relax and let gravity and my parachute take me away. I’ve taken a risk. It could end badly, but I wouldn’t have bothered taking the risk if I thought that it would. I would never have allowed myself to go skydiving in the first place if I thought that I’d die, or if I thought I’d wind up with a broken skull. So I let myself enjoy the fall, and trust that I will be safe.Skydiving is not a sport for the weak. You have to know your bodily limits on earth before you attempt to challenge them in the air. You must be confident in your own skin, on your own surface, before reaching out to the different environment of the vast sky. Otherwise, it’s bound to end in a failure of some variety.I love skydiving. But I’ve only done it once. I don’t want to go again, even though I can’t name an experience I’ve had that I’ve enjoyed more. Nothing compares to the excitement I got when I realized that I was totally exposed, that anything – for better or for worse – could happen to me when I hit the ground. Nothing compares to the serenity and peace I felt when I realized I didn’t care what happened when I hit ground, because the thrill of the fall itself was worth whatever price I might have to pay later with broken limbs (or even with a broken skull). Before I went skydiving, I had one love in my life – cookies. Skydiving tripled that number. Now I love skydiving, but, more importantly, I love the ground that I hit. Do something you love today.