Taking the Leap

29 09 2012

I jumped out of an airplane and I jumped back into my life. It’s now been a few years since I stepped into thin air, it will always be a significant mile marker on my creative journey. I was recently divorced and my daughter was about to move out. (For all you about to be empty nesters—don’t get too excited—those little birds you push out of the nest have a way of flying back into that safe nest.) The offer to jump was a gift from a friend for big birthday I was about to have.

It started with a casual conversation with my friend saying, “You may think I’m crazy, but I’m thinking of skydiving.” I didn’t think it was crazy and I replied, “Cool, I could do that.” He was surprised by my answer and said that if I’d jump it would be a gift for my 50th birthday. So we set the date and of course started telling everyone we knew. What surprised me was while his friends were in disbelief and thought he’d back out, my friends weren’t surprised and had no doubt that I’d do it.

I was always surprised by how others view of me differed from my own. Internally I was emotionally beaten up from what had been a difficult marriage. I felt once a woman became a certain age, she often becomes invisible to society. But others saw that inner Connie light shining, even if I felt it had dimmed.

I remember watching Peter Pan on TV when I was a little girl. There’s a point in the story when Tinkerbelle starts to lose her power and Peter Pan turns to the TV audience and tells them to clap to let Tinkerbelle know you believed in her. I remember standing in front of that TV and clapping and clapping and watching the light of Tinkerbelle get stronger and stronger. That’s what my friends’ confidence in me did in this stretch of my life’s journey. It made my inner light stronger. I am now no longer invisible.

Keep Moving Forward

The day of the jump dawned into a beautiful, cool, crisp spring day. You have to jump in tandem with an experienced skydiver and there’s a simple training they put you through that takes about an hour. Those details have become a little fuzzy. But I remember every detail of the jump itself. I was excited and keenly aware of the symbolism of what this jump meant for me. I knew in my core that I would land safely. Symbolically and in reality I believe that if you take a leap, the universe will help you land where you are meant to be. I wanted to stay present in every moment of this adventure.

There was friendly talk as the plane climbed into the sky. One guy joked about when people asked him why would he jump out of a perfectly good plane, he would reply that the plane is really not really that good as he pointed to where it was duck taped together. But that didn’t scare me. The diver I was tethered to wasn’t much of a talker, which suited my excited, yet contemplative state of mind.

The time came to jump. I had total confidence in who I was tethered to, but that moment of stepping out of the plane…hanging on the wing, feeling the cold wind in my face and knowing that I had to let go…was a moment of pure terror. I put my foot on the tiny step outside of the plane and held tightly onto the wing. I was full of fear and at the point of no going back.

Then I Let Go

And I let go of the fear and I only felt the exhilaration of free fall. I could feel and hear the wind whistling past and I felt the power of the fall against my skin. I could see for miles. Because you don’t have anything grounding you, there is not a feeling of a fear of heights like when you look over the edge of a tall building. I just felt the energy and adrenaline pumping through my veins.

Then the parachute opens. And you enter the Zen of the jump. The world become silent, timeless and you are floating in air. This was the unexpected part for me…the silence…and the floating feeling. Floating in a pool is lovely, but you still feel the pull of gravity. Once that chute opens, you no longer feel the gravitational pull. The seconds turn into minutes and you know it will be over soon, but while you are in this quiet space, time stands still.

I had been told to keep my legs up and to slide on landing. Soon enough I felt the ground beneath me. This was the biggest adrenaline rush of my life. I felt the power of that rush and the reality of the total exhilaration of jumping into my life.

Be fearless and take the leap.

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32 responses

29 09 2012
Beck BAM Sadler

MMmmmmmmm this was absolutely delicious

29 09 2012
Thom harris

You still couldn’t get me to do that so I admire your courage girl. Yikes!
I’d get an adrenalin rush if my neighbor would get rid of his bamboo … Baby steps. Me thinks you too can do a bamboo blog entry. Plenty of metaphors at work with living with bamboo 😉 Teresa $
& I enjoy your blog.

29 09 2012
conniemcleod

Thanks! I think I could write a post about the evils of bamboo. Great idea!

11 11 2012
susanintheboonies

Good for you. Facing one’s fear takes a tremendous amount of bravery, but can serve as a touchstone for facing one’s fears in the future with courage.

11 11 2012
Helene Bludman

Connie, with my intense fear of heights I will never do this, but my children have and they count it as one of their most amazing experiences ever. (They were wise to tell me AFTER the jump, not before.) Good for you for literally taking the leap!

11 11 2012
Chloe Jeffreys (@ChloeJeffreys)

Connie, this is beautiful!! I agree with you that our defeats (like an unhappy marriage) do NOT define us. We can still be brave even if we have times of cowardice; we can still be free even if we’ve had times of slavery to the thoughts and feelings that seek to trap us.

I loved your story! I’m glad you are part of us women of a certain age. We are certainly not invisible any more.

11 11 2012
Lisa@GrandmasBriefs

A wonderful post, Connie. I’ve jumped before (a tandem jump nearly 20 years ago) and can attest to the sheer peace way up there away from the fray of the everyday. Such power you gleaned from your brave act. Good for you!
PS: Visiting from the GenFab group. 😀

11 11 2012
imnotasupermom

This is amazing! My dad was an airborne ranger and jumped out of a lot of planes. I’ve always wanted to, but I’ll wait until my youngest is out of the house.
Nice to meet you through GenFab!

11 11 2012
mindy

Congratulations! Take a bow!

11 11 2012
BigLittleWolf

BEYOND brave. (I almost did this at 19 and chickened out. I’m so impressed!)

11 11 2012
Bonnie

Not. In. A. Million. Years.
But I admire your courage and determination! congratulations on facing your fear. Well done!

12 11 2012
Sharon Greenthal

I am so impressed. I could never, ever do that – though I so wish I could! it sounds like you’ve taken off on a great adventure at midlife – and yes those kids come home – but they do leave again, I promise! So nice to know you through #genfab.

12 11 2012
joyweesemoll

Terrific post. I love how well it works as a symbol for you — especially the surprising bit of peace in the floating time.

12 11 2012
Liza Lee

I’m afraid of heights, but you’ve made me think I could take the leap. What a fabulous experience!

12 11 2012
haralee

Wow you are brave!! I did a zip line years ago at a corporate team building event (remember those) and that first step into nothingness is difficult but that was enough for me!

12 11 2012
Lori Jo Vest (@lorijovest)

Wow!!! Always wondered what that would feel like. Your description made it real.

13 11 2012
denisedanchesfisher

This, in my view, is the bravest and most courageous act you can do in this world. It takes PURE GUTS and nothing less to surrender to the unknown, and to try and cheat gravity. Once you achieve this goal, you have made your mark in life and are have proved you are living it to the fullest!

13 11 2012
conniemcleod

Thanks so much. I’m so touched by everyone’s comments.

14 11 2012
Lois

I can’t tell you how much I admire that you actually did this — there is no way I could do it. Your writing made me feel like I was doing it with you, so thank you for letting me live vicariously through your courage!

14 11 2012
conniemcleod

Thanks Lois. I must add that divorce was much scarier!

9 04 2013
afterthekidsleave

Connie, I felt like I was right there with you! I don’t think I could do what you did, but you really brought us along for the ride. Thank you!
Karen

9 04 2013
conniemcleod

Karen, I am not an adrenaline junky, but this was the biggest rush I’ve ever felt in my life! And I’d do it again.

9 04 2013
Sheryl

Wow! I can’t imagine ever doing this – but I do know it would be thrilling. I’ll just live vicariously through you. PS. You are one brave woman 🙂

9 04 2013
conniemcleod

Thanks Sheryl, it was thrilling!

10 04 2013
Lisa Garon Froman

You are completely awesome. And relatable!

10 04 2013
conniemcleod

Thanks Lisa, I’m glad you could relate.

10 04 2013
Rick Barlow

Impressive. I can see how stripping away all the context of safety you’d been used to for 50 years, even if only for a few minutes, could liberate you entirely to create an new you. Bravo. I have to say I don’t think I could do it.

10 04 2013
conniemcleod

Rick, I knew that if I could jump out of a plane I could do anything. I want to be fearless in this chapter of my life. Thanks for commenting.

31 12 2013
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20 03 2014
apleasanthouse

What a lovely comment. I’ve read it twice.

3 02 2014
What Gives You Joy | Connie McLeod

[…] •  Jumping out of an airplane […]

20 03 2014
apleasanthouse

OMG. Our son did this last year. He felt the same things you talk about. I could never……. maybe with you?

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