I’ve got a weird phobia of heights. When walking on a bridge I don’t like walking on the side closest to the edge. When I go to Dreamworld I always go on the giant drop, even though every time I think I’m going to wet myself.
A few weeks ago my manager from work asked if I wanted to go skydiving with a few of my work colleagues. Not really giving it a second thought, I said yes. It wasn’t until Sunday when the day of the tandem skydive finally arrived that it actually sunk in, and the reality of what I was about to do hit me like a tonne of bricks.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t petrified, and even then that’s an understatement.
It was originally planned that I was to go up in the second group, but due to a cruel joke by the powers that be and a couple of cancellations, not only was I now going up in the first flight, but I would be the second to go plummeting out of that plane to my certain death.
Yes, I know this sounds all rather melodramatic, but as the plane took off and everything below grew increasingly small like the stitching on a cotton shirt, I felt panic begin to take over. I actually had to force myself to remember to breathe.
As the plane flew higher into the sky, I glanced around at my fellow passengers with a mixture of thoughts racing through my head. If I did survive this but crapped my pants, I would never be able to show my face at work again. It really is strange some of the things that race through your mind as you are about to face your own mortality. I never got to have sex in the back-seat of a car. I never tried frog legs. And would the clouds taste like fairy floss?
As my instructor edged me closer to the opened door, the sound of roaring wind filled my ears and I got my first glimpse over the edge and the blue ocean below, it dawned on me there was no going back. Then with one push I was free falling.
Even now I still struggle with the words to express what the feeling was like. It’s as if you’re falling so fast that you feel completely weightless. Like you’re floating… but you know you’re not when you see the plane above growing smaller and the ground below growing larger. You know that feeling of accomplishment where you just stop caring about what people think? It’s like that but times by a thousand and rather then people it’s life that you’re giving the big middle finger to.
I may have only been free falling for about one minute, but that minute felt more like an hour, then without warning the parachute is deployed and everything suddenly slowed down as I found myself gently soaring like a bird making our way towards the drop zone on the beach below.
When my feet did finally land on the ground, it was a weird sensation in itself. The rush and adrenalin was still racing through me, and I won’t lie, if I could have gone straight back up there and do it all again I would have. It’s a rush like no other.
Do heights still freak me out? Oh yes, but at least I know that fear won’t stop me from trying something new.
With one year coming to an end and a new one beginning, we often find ourselves making resolutions for the new year – lose a few pounds, quit smoking, etc. However I think one resolution we should all make is to go out there and do something that you would never normally do.
In 2013, will you face the things that scare you?
An article I wrote for SameSame.com.au