Monday, May 25, 2009

Fantaboulous skydiving

Last weekend was probably, by many measures, the craziest weekend of my life. Together with a bunch of good friends I went to this small place in Maine for rafting and a few minutes of pure adrenaline by skydiving from a small plane.

Overall there was a lot of pain involved. By camping in the cold, being sleep deprived, getting completely wet in the river while the sun is hiding behind the clouds, and being repeatedly bitten in the face by flocks of mosquitoes so dense that they could cover the sun.

But the grand finale with the jumping from the plane made up for most of it. If I had to summarize the whole experience with one sentence I would definitely go for the following one: There is nothing to fear but fear itself. In fact, skydiving is a pretty safe activity. Definitely safer than rafting and by many order of magnitudes safer than riding a car with a 19 year old girl driving around 108 miles an hour, as it happened on the way to Maine.

But the really cool part about skydiving is facing your own irrational fears. I had never ridden a small plane, and yesterday I was in this little box, with no space for seats, with barely space for five people, about 3500 meters up in the air standing on a small metal plate inside a big vacuum just full of air.

You can think about it a lot, but being there will give a feeling that it is difficult to describe. Put that together with the fact that you don't know what it is going to feel like. You just know that it will feel like nothing you have experienced before.

That's exactly what I felt. As my tandem instructor put it, it was fantaboulous. I confess I was pretty tense, although not more than I would feel if I had to jump from a 20 meters cliff, or climb a 20 meters cliff. Apparently skydiving has little to do with being afraid of heights. To some extent, I would say it was even less scary because everything will keep telling you that it is safe. Truth is, there is a cap on how scary something is going to be if you rationally believe that it is safe. Emotionwise it will never equal the experience of meeting a hungry polar bear in the middle of an ice pak.

The thing I was scared the most was actually to be scared. Since I bought the video, I thought that I was going to remember everything that I did, so I better did it right. I concentrated a lot about how I was going to behave and maybe it turned out that doing so helped me concentrating on something other than my fears. I don't have the video yet, but I got a feeling that it is going to be pretty funny and kinf of stupid.

But what the hell, as soon as I get it I am going to put it on my phone, so that I will keep it with me all the time. I am so glad I did it. It was worth it every single cent.

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