There is nothing quite like that moment seconds before you jump. It feels like an age as I wait here, the long pause before the rush. My heart is racing, it reminds me of that split second before you reach the top of a rollercoaster and feels like it will last forever.
A camera straight ahead of me and I notice that I’m waving at it, I didn’t even notice my arm move. I know I’m being asked to do something else now but I can’t hear the words of the instructor, all I can see are the movements of his mouth in slow motion, his mouth is making shapes at me but there are no words, no sound, no meaning. My lower legs are shaking, hooked around the outside of the plane; the wind against me so forceful, I can’t quite work out if my legs are moving or if maybe they are stuck, restricted by the strength of the wind.
Suddenly I am moving but I can’t tell if I’m in control of my body or if someone else is. I wonder if I’m flying or falling. The total lack of control I have suffocates me as I can’t help but hold my breath. That initial fall cutting into the atmosphere, pushing the elements from beneath me aside. The harsh wind pushing hard against my cheeks whilst I fall at 120mph. I’m surrounded by pure blue sky and snow-capped mountain peaks but I can finally see the distraction I was waiting for. Suddenly the fact that my hands are trying to grab the air around me, it baffles me but I remember there is a complete lack of anything solid to grasp in my hands in the middle of the air. At a desperate attempt to hold on, I just let go. I let go from everything. My body is free and finally so is my mind. I am free falling and I never thought it would be so peaceful.
It takes some time for the blue sky, the snow-capped mountain peaks, the miles of green trees, distant seas and darkened shapes melting into the ground to begin to take their true forms. Before long what I thought was blue sky now becomes ocean and ocean becomes sky. For a second, I’m wondering if my head has rotated without my body. After moments, I realise I am just settling into the speed of which the earth is moving around me and me around it. My parachute appears above me and for what seems an eternity everything around me begins to freeze in place. The horizon line starts to re-align and balance itself out ahead of me. It just exists, motionless, as if it was there for me and only me.
The shapes below are slowly getting closer and I start seeing the world more clearly. I notice that I can begin to focus on anything and everything – it all comes to me at once. The details of my surroundings to admire, before I know it, I have begun to float seamlessly into my own bubble. I am no longer diving in uncertainty but flying with purpose. Drifting out of fear and into a sense of clarity. With no rhyme or reason I notice the importance of a single change and the impact it can have, giving me complete choice and control. Now, finally my hands can really grasp that control, a physical object right there in front of my eyes. I guide the parachute to reach the safety of the solid, firm ground beneath me and simply trust the process.
There was only one way to fall, and that was down.