I’ve been skydivingfor a little over two years now. Working/planning jump #1000, I want it to be very unique. The nude jump thing is past my prime, and aside from that…it doesn’t interest me much. But planning this has caused me not only to reflect on the past two years, but the past two decades and the events I’ve been involved with, and what led me to skydiving.
The skydiving social circle is incredibly eclectic. Doctors, lawyers, rednecks, waitresses, product managers, construction workers, elitists, sociopaths, snobs, giving, energetic, lazy people populate this dysfunctional family of adrenaline-enthusiasts. Not many other sports or activities draw from such an extremity of classes.
Lately I’ve seen a lot of dysfunction and not much family. The dysfunction is like an impenetrable wall of stone, with a foundation based in psychosis. Did I mention we’re talking about skydivers here? 🙂
But like any wall…if you follow the line far enough, a window or door will become apparent. Looking through the window or walking through the door, opportunity presents itself as an escape from the inside of the wall. Walls are there to keep something or other contained, but skydiving is a spirit, it’s not a “thing.” It cannot be contained nor constrained. Either it’s felt or it isn’t.
In the nearly 900 jumps I’ve accomplished in the past two years…I’ve learned one thing in particular; share what you know with others. Always. Don’t get pissed when you share something and turn around to find the person you shared with has managed to master whatever you’ve shown them, even if you haven’t. Congratulate yourself on helping them get to whatever level of success they’ve risen to. For me…damn. I LOVE seeing someone succeed and feeling like I added some level of value to their journey.
Don’t pose. Eventually, someone will recognize your pose for what it is; a bullshit posture that is just another wall. Do the best you can, and be proud of it.
Then go out and do better.
If you’re not constantly improving as a skydiver, then you’re not in it for the right reasons. It’s self-challenge. If you’re trying to impress anyone other than yourself…you’re messed up.
One instructor I recently ran across claimed 3000 jumps and hours upon hours of tunnel time. That’s all cool until the time comes to fly with that instructor. It’s obvious that either jump numbers are grossly inflated, or this instructor truly has almost no talent. His buddies pretty well all scoff at his numbers, double their own, and they all started as a single group.
Then there is the newly-dubbed instructor I met who has perhaps 1k jumps, who flies better than anyone I’ve ever seen. Because he loves the sport. The first person…not so sure he loves the sport as much as he loves the attention he receives because of the sport. When knowledge is shared, it’s almost immediately apparent what motivates the more knowledgeable person. Hopefully, they’re motivated because of a love of the sport, not a love of where the sport elevates them above others.
Scott Stapp said it well;
If I had just one thing to say
Before my last breath fades away.
Keep your head way up in the clouds
And never let them get you down!
Never let them get you down!
Keep hoping and dreaming and you will soar!
With a little faith and love.
You will soar!
If I had just two words to say,
To explain my life away.
I could say ups and downs,
I just wanna fly. I just wanna keep challenging myself. I just wanna figure out how to get over/under/around/through the walls before me put there by myself/lack of skills or by others. I want to find the doors and windows. Because skydiving, unlike so much of my “real” life, truly is “all about ME.” It’s about making myself better as a flyer, as a student, as a person in my dysfunctional family. It’s about *personal* growth. It’s about the window into my soul that truly only I can see and eventually comprehend. I’m my own worst critic. I know I suck, but I truly suck less than I did a few months ago, thanks to personal dedication and to people that want to help me help myself improve.I used to despise walls; now I somewhat enjoy them. If there are no obstacles in the road, there is nothing to stop and force me to look around, to assess my location, and determine any new direction of travel. If there were no walls, then doors and windows would be meaningless.
All the dysfunction in the world can’t change that anticipation and excitement. The family part…that’s just social culture.
BTW, those that think dysfunctional families in skydiving are abnormal…try a bowling league or knitting class. Social groups are pretty much the same no matter what genre. Sitting around the fire drinking beer, sitting around a table drinking wine, or sitting around the pool drinking lemonade…