It’s gratitude sunday here again on the blog, and I seem to be doing a halfway decent job at establishing this new habit for myself. It’s been going on 3 months now that every Sunday I publish a letter of appreciation to someone or something to share my gratitude. I’ve found this habit has helped shift my attention to the positive things in life. There are blessings all around us, if we just take the time to look away from all the crappy things, because they are all around us too. Today’s post includes a gratitude letter, and BONUS – another video!
Last week, for about 5 minutes, you were the single most important thing keeping me alive. You were the only thing keeping me from going splat on the ground and so I owe you a huge amount of thanks. Because of you, I am able to write this letter today.
I was surprised that you didn’t weigh more and you didn’t take up more space than you did. I didn’t have a lot of time to examine you and learn about all your specific features, I honestly just crossed my fingers and hoped you would perform as needed when it mattered. Which you did, so YEAH YOU!
When I first jumped out of the plane, we were at 13,000 feet and I honestly wasn’t thinking about you at all. I was really just thinking that holy crap the air is cold and we are falling really fast and WEEEE this is really FUUUUUNNNNN! I think the last 5 seconds in the plane were the scariest just because of the anticipation, and the first five seconds of the freefall were the most fun. I was able to freefall for almost a full minute and during that time I got really comfortable with the fact that I was flying through the sky. I starting wondering about how much training it would take to do some of the fancy acrobatics and formations the professionals do and then I was just enjoying the scenery of the wide open Arizona sky. It was an absolutely perfect October morning, clear and crisp and just ideal for this crazy adventure.
And then without any warning, BHAM the parachute opened and you did your job exactly as planned and I felt like I got jerked 100 feet upwards into the sky. I didn’t really move upwards, but it just felt that way. My tandem instructor quickly adjusted the straps so I’d be more comfortable and then just like that we were floating lazily around the sky. Far down below us was the landing zone; it was easy to pick out the green grass in the middle of the brown desert. I honestly couldn’t believe how calm and peaceful everything felt. Yes, I felt some motion sickness after doing a few turns, so then we minimized the turns and I tried to keep my stomach under control. I also tried to pop my ears as much as I could because the pressure in my ears was really hurting.
I was surprised at how fast we were moving at landing – it seemed were were coming in fast, but both the tandem instructor and I managed to stay standing up. And just like that, before everything really registered, I was back to walking on the ground again. It seemed somewhat surreal, to be solid and walking around like a normal person again. I could hear things and feel things again and I suddenly felt very very heavy. But in a good way – in a solid and grounded way, like gravity is supposed to feel.
It’s been a week now since this first jump and as I reflect on my gratitude for my parachute, I realize there are very few times in our life when we are so singularly and completely dependent on something like a parachute to keep us alive. There are really very very few times in our lifetime when our life literally depends on something as basic as a parachute. I cannot think of another instance when my life has been so dependent on a piece of fabric and some cords.
So I think this is a good reality check to remember that most of the struggles in our life are not life or death. Most of the dramas we obsess over from day to day, most of the things we worry about on the drive to work, most of these are just situations we imagine in our head. Most of our daily challenges are not life threatening. Even though our challenges can feel that way sometimes and even though it feels like our world is collapsing, most of the time it is not.
We might not like our job or we might not like our neighbors or we might be frustrated with our lack of fitness. We might get irritated with the traffic or the weather or our coworkers, or we might be stressing out about the bank account or our ex-husband. Or any number of things. It’s so easy to get aggravated and it’s even easier to stay aggravated.
But the truth is, no matter what the aggravation is, our life is rarely on the line. And even when that thing we don’t want to happen, does happen, it doesn’t usually kill us. Yes, we might be miserable for a day or a week or a month or even a year, and we might be pissed off or depressed or unhappy, but at the end of the day we are still alive.
I admit I’m definitely guilty of obsessing and ruminating and over-analzying my life. I know this decreases my happiness and I’m trying to train myself to do this far less frequently. Because most of what we worry about never ever happens. And the worrying is just a big fat huge waste of energy.
At the end of the day, not much in our life is truly a matter of life and death.
So thank you to my parachute for reminding me of this, for putting things into perspective like this. For two solitary minutes I was completely and entirely dependent on my parachute for my life. It’s good to remember this for the rest of my week and my month, to remember that none of the other things I tend to worry about are really as important as my parachute.
The fact is – the parachute opened, I had a fantastic skydiving adventure, and I’m now a year older. As the engineers might say, everything else is just noise.
As promised, here’s the video of this particular adventure – and can I just say how cool it is that we have technology that captures videos like this?!?
NOTE that the first part of the video is the silly promotional stuff I could not edit out despite my best efforts- so just fast forward ahead to 1:45 in the video to see me and my entire jump. If you’d like to watch this in a larger window, you can watch it larger over here at this link.
As you go about the rest of your day, please remember that not many things you worry about are as important as a parachute, and adjust your stress level accordingly.