A Leap of Faith (Literally)

josh taylor parachutingOur group made our way into the plane, loaded in gear.  Yes, I was scared, but somehow I knew it was going to be okay.  As the Monster energized jump-trainer situated the number three passenger in the back, the pilot put his finger to his lips and closed the hatch behind the trainer as his back was turned.  When he was done and got out to situate the next jumper, he bumped his head.  “Pilots…” he murmured, though he was laughing himself.  He then helped the rest of us in.

Okay, so here we go…  The plane rose higher and higher.  I laughed and hooped and hollered, which was my way of coping with the adrenaline.  Fear of the unknown.  To be honest, my fear was more of fear itself.  I imagined myself getting queasy like when I got my first tattoo a few years ago.  Fortunately I managed okay.  I don’t have a major phobia of heights, though jumping out of a plane is another story.

As we soared in the atmosphere I took the epic view.  I had to keep telling myself this was going to be fun and awesome instead of terrifying.  Really it was all of those.  When our trainer opened the hatch for Tyler, jumper number one, the wind roared as the unhindered view of death height stared us in the face.  Rachel, the girl who was number three in the back screamed, which could’ve been in delight or terror, probably both.  I laughed, but…geez…this was intense!

We knew the drill.  Tyler climbed out, hung onto the wing and then let go falling into the great beyond.  Was he alive?  I guess we’d find out.  My turn next…

The plane took a couple minutes to circle around and then it was time for Jumper Number 2.  Yours truly.  As I started to climb out, the wind pushed me back in hard.   Okay, here we go.  Something about jumping out of a plane at 3500 feet makes me forget what we’d learned in training.  So after stepping out and hanging on I motioned that I could see the runway down below (yes, we had to look down), then he nodded and I knew it was time.

Here’s the moment I’d dreaded.  I knew there were so many precautions and backups in skydiving that despite the risk, some say it’s safer than driving your car.  What I was afraid of was that I’d not let go.  But I’m used to following instructions and I trusted.  Prayers made, I let go of the wing…

josh-taylor-after-parachutingAfter a few seconds of shock, I looked up to see my parachute was out.  Spinning around a bit to straighten it out, I was relieved.  Okay, I’m thousands of feet in the air and I’m alive.  Surreal.  I tried right and left and my body turned in sickening Top-Gun motions.  Not fun.  I tried my brake and flared and my fall stopped.  I hovered above the ground, blowing away in the wind and feeling tons of air pressure.  Trippy…

Within a few minutes I was radioed instructions to the landing spot and how to flare at the last few feet.  Land felt like I’d jumped from just a few feet and I fell to my knees just a tad.  Picking up my parachute, I was high on adrenaline.  I can’t believe I just did that.  Wow…just wow!

And yes, Tyler and Rachel also were alive and well.

Testing

Why’d I do it?  John Eldredge says we need to take risk to feel alive.  It’s true.  Since most men around here don’t go to war like we used to or hunt with spears, sometimes we need to invent our own tests.  This was one of them.

Should all men skydive?  Geez, no.  Go come up with something yourself.  If you want to skydive great.  You’ll love it, but do your own thing.  When other people want to do it, I say, have fun, because I don’t feel a need to go do it again.  Life goes on.  Some people skydive a lot as a hobby, sometimes even a career.  But I have other things to do.

What’d I learn?

I don’t do spontaneous.  I take my time to think over a decision and then take calculated risks.  In my Project Management class we learned to weigh out costs/benefits and potential risks.  If the risk of dying was so much of a fraction of a percent (and I’d go to a better place anyway), but success helped me have a great experience, have a decent adventure story, and take me out of my comfort zone to grow further, then it’s worth taking on.

What are some experiences that have helped you to push the boundaries of comfort?  To tell a good story?  Lead a more interesting life?   Or make you stronger as a person?

Category: Faith, Personal Growth | 2 comments

  • Elizabeth says:

    Oh, this is a risk I will definitely pass on! I’m glad you did it though. You should have borrowed Willy’s go-pro camera so we could have a video!

    • Josh Taylor says:

      That would be cool, but first jumpers weren’t allow to carry cameras so as to control the flight down and keep aware if something went wrong. (We had a reserve chute as well.) Someone else did get the a video, but I don’t know if I’ll be in it much.

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