The Art of Taking Flight in Your Life
How an intense physical experiences can trigger growth.
Yesterday was a lazy Sunday. My daughter and I woke up without any real plan for the day. We just felt like having an adventure so we let the day go where it would take us. It ultimately took us indoor skydiving. Oh yes.
When we entered the venue, we got a look at what we were about to experience. A huge glass tube rose through the center of the room, several stories high. The skydivers were dressed in flight suits and helmets with goggles. As we watched the group before us complete their runs, you saw a variety of reactions to the experience. People were either shaken or exhilarated or both.
Getting ready to fly was an experience in itself. There was flight training to teach you correct body position and to learn the hand signals the instructor would be giving you in the tube. It would be too loud to hear anything so everything was hand signals. You had your gear fitted and got ready to fly. Just standing outside the wind tunnel began the sensory level of the experience. The sound of air rushing was soft, muted by the balaclava and helmet over my ears.
My 12 year-old daughter and I were placed in a group with 8 other people. I was sort of annoyed because our group was a teenage birthday party. It felt as if we were strangers at someone else’s party. But, whatever. It didn’t matter. I just wanted to make sure my daughter felt comfortable through the experience so we stuck close together.
When it was time to line up to go, we had to get in flight order. The teenagers were nervous as was my daughter so I went first. When you enter the tube, you go in through this arched doorway. Knees bent, hands above your head in flight position, you fall forward into the intense blast of air. The instructor holds you and helps you stabilize your position.
What a wild, intense experience feeling so much air press against your body that you literally fly. As you reach terminal velocity, you just float hovering above the ground. The smallest movement of your body completely changes the way you move through the air. The sound of wind rushing was so loud I could not even hear my own voice. As the instructor spun me around I tried to stay balanced and then I felt him let go.
Intense physical experiences tend to make me look inward. On the drive home, I had time to think about what I had just encountered. There was meaning in it and I felt a surge of new personal revelations.
Push the limits
Skydiving, even in this extremely controlled environment felt very dangerous. It was a thrilling experience affecting all of your senses and it danced the line between control and complete powerlessness. Every nerve ending felt like it was alive and I was on fire. Adventure of any kind is totally stimulating to me. I feel most alive when I am pushing past what I consider to be my mental and physical limits.
Always be open to trying new things. You might surprise yourself.
“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.”― Kurt Vonnegut
Trust the process
Trust is often more easily said than done. In this situation, I had placed both my life and my daughter’s life in the hands of a young guy I had never met before. As I drove home, I couldn’t help but think of all the ways we trust every day. We let our children get on the bus with a driver we barely know. We accept food in restaurants when we have no idea if the cook washed his hands. I could go on but you get the picture. Our anxieties can rule and drive us crazy. Or worse, it can prevent us from experiencing life.
Jus trust and let go.
“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” — Ernest Hemingway
Keep your mouth closed
I like silent activities. I like when I lose my voice every once in a while. One of the most pleasurable parts of skydiving was not talking. It was all physical and communication was hand signals only. The value in things like meditation is that we give ourselves a break from all thinking and speaking. It is like a palate cleanser. Silence.
Plus if you open your mouth when you are in a wind tunnel, saliva goes everywhere. Gross.
“Everything that’s created comes out of silence. Thoughts emerge from the nothingness of silence. Words come out of the void. Your very essence emerged from emptiness. All creativity requires some stillness.” — Wayne Dyer
Always aim higher
When you sign-up to participate, there are all of these add-ons you can choose. Photos, videos, extra flight time and so on. Most seemed designed to raise the total cost of the experience. But one caught my eye…you can fly extra high on your last run. Um, yes please. That was the best decision. Instead of just hovering by the ground, the instructor holds the side of your flight suit and spins you up to the top of the glass tube. Believe me, the original experience is intense. This was a whole new level.
Go for more. Always.
The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.
Keep an open mind
I was stressed about being stuck in the middle of a group of teenage girls with my young daughter. When we lined up to take our turns skydiving, I was first. The instructor guides your body and turns you around facing all directions. Each time I turned I would see the group of divers waiting on the bench and all of the teenagers were clapping and cheering like crazy. Aww.
Go into all situations with an open mind. Don’t judge people. Most of them are worth giving the benefit of the doubt.
“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” ― Albert Einstein
Up next? Real skydiving. Oh yes.