Somebody push me off the ledge....please?
Thursday, June 02, 2016
About 15 years ago a group of us decided to get our adrenaline rush and jump out of an airplane. It was a static line jump. It sounded like no big deal. It sounded pretty fool proof. Step out of the plane, the chute opens, you land on the ground. Number of people who have died doing a static line jump from the place we were going? Zero. No big deal.
We got there in the morning and took the required training course where they taught you basic safety stuff and how to land. How to land? You didn't just float out of the sky and land on your feet? Uhoh.
Oh, I forgot to tell you, I hate heights. I fly just fine on those commercial airliners. Heights don't bother me there. For some reason I didn't think about standing in that opening of the small plane and waiting for a signal to jump, looking down to the earth below..... a long ways below! I didn't think of taking that first step into nothingness with nothing solid beneath my feet.
I was quickly changing my mind. I don't think I really want to do this. Why am I doing this? "Face your fear" my friends said. "Conquer your fear!" One by one they went out the door, some with fierce warrior shouts. I wanted to throw up.
What if the chute doesn't open? What if I pee my pants when I step out of that plane? What if I break my leg when I land? Is my house clean? Who will take care of my kids if I die? What if I throw up? What if????? a rush of bad things entered my mind.
Stop! No one has died jumping from this plane!.....yet, there is always a first one. I could be the first one. Remind me, why did I want to do this?
All my friends had jumped out the opening of the plane. I stood there with a death grip on the handle. What if I just don't do this and quit right now? I would be safe. My friends would joke about it, but I'd survive. Chicken. I've been called worse, I'm sure of it. I thought about it briefly when they signaled for me to jump. I didn't want to. I was consumed by fear and what if's. One thing I am not... is a quitter. An almost quitter, a wannabe quitter - maybe, but I do not quit. I persevere.
I closed my eyes. I wanted someone to push me off the ledge. I didn't want to willingly take that first step into thin air. I looked with fear in my eyes to the man telling me to Go! I closed my eyes, let go of the handle and went out that door. We weren't supposed to close our eyes! I did! Yikes! My stomach flip flopped. In a matter of a minute or so my chute popped open and I was gently floating towards earth. Hey, I didn't throw up! I didn't even pee my pants! This was pretty cool. I was liking it - until I saw the ground getting closer and started worrying about shattering a bone. I remembered what I was told and found myself on the ground and heard the cheers of my friends. I was never so happy to feel the hard ground.
Yep, I conquered my fear.
Reality? My knees were shaking. My heart was racing. I was grateful to be sitting on the earth. I did not feel this big rush of satisfaction of conquering my fears. In fact, I felt rather like I was going to be sick. If I went back up in that plane the fear would still be there.
Things I learned:
I will never willingly jump out of a plane again. I did not love it, I slightly enjoyed it, but not enough to make up for all the uneasiness felt in the time leading up to the jump. I will never become a skydiver!
When my mind goes to "what if".... it plays out the worst possible scenarios. It never says "What if this is the most wonderful thing!" or "What if I really like this and actually take up skydiving!" or "Imagine the beauty in that bird's eye view of life". It's all about dark things like untimely death.
My fears rarely materialize as they are imagined. In fact most of the time they never materialize at all. Most of the time spent worrying about those fears is indeed wasted time. I know this. I still do it.
My life could be completely controlled by my fears if I let it. However, I usually call fears bluff and push forward.
So what the heck does this have to do with my journey to a healthier lifestyle here?
Today I read a member's blog. In it she mentioned that she hasn't blogged much lately, in fact it had been months. She went on to say she had gained back a lot of weight. She talked about her husband voicing his concern for her health and the lies she tells herself. Truth be told.... not healthy.
I stopped reading for a moment. My mind said "someone is telling YOUR story". I had lost 70 pounds and was a mere 20 from my goal weight when I took my first step into this downward spiral. I don't like to talk about that. I don't have a husband who is concerned about my health.... but I have watched a friend die from the complexities of obesity. I watched each pound she gained take something dear from her. I fear walking in her footsteps. Someone else here is standing where I am standing.... in the doorway of the plane.
I continued to read the blog. "Today is day one of yet another fresh start". She went on to say she would NEVER give up on herself. She started a brand new journal on page one. She poured that six pack of Coke down the drain. The cover of her journal says "Enjoy the Ride" and that is just what she intends to do. Poof! She took that first step out the plane.
I paused again. I WANT to do that. I want to get caught up in that fever of a fresh start. I want to have the strength to pour that Coke Zero down the drain.
Instead here I sit.... thinking, worrying, full of fear. Thinking about what I want and what I am willing to do as I sip on my Coke Zero. Worrying that maybe I don't have what it takes to make this journey. Imaging people shaking their heads saying "Starting over AGAIN?!?"
What am I waiting for? It isn't going to get any easier a week, a month or a year from now. I need to quit thinking about all those things that I think I am giving up and focus on all those things I will be gaining. I need to remember, those fears rarely become reality.
So here I go. I'm stepping off the ledge. I'm getting out of my comfort zone. I am prepared. I have everything I need to make this journey. The only thing in my way is myself and for just right now, I am stepping out of my way!