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Finding a New Perspective at 13,000 Feet

24 Oct

Not much in life shocks or scares me anymore. I’m not an adrenaline junkie or immune to fear, but I just haven’t experienced much in my daily life lately that has gotten my heart racing. I began to question whether I was apathetic to life or just not pushing myself outside of my comfort zone, so I decided to take an extreme test of fear, courage and insanity to find the answer. I decided to go skydiving.

Throughout the whole experience I was most apprehensive about kneeling at the door of the plane, looking down at a world so small, it’s barely recognizable…and not feeling a single thing. How sad would it be to discover that life isn’t enough to satisfy you? With everything beautiful and wonderful to experience in our world, I think the worst emotion to suffer through is the lack of emotion altogether.

Skydiving proved to me that I am very capable of feeling every emotion and in rapid succession. As the door opened and I inched my way toward it, I had no time to over-think what was happening—I jumped. And like that, I was free falling to the earth for close to a minute. In those 60 seconds I experienced doubt, fear, confusion, lack of control, excitement, happiness, appreciation, love and pride. When the parachute successfully released, I felt an unexpected sense of calm. I was still falling rapidly toward the earth, but in comparison to free falling, I was relaxed and content to just enjoy the ride.

By the time I landed, sitting in the grass, all of the stresses that had seemed so overwhelming must have blown off me on the way down. The only way to describe how I felt is to compare it to having just gotten the most amazing massage. I was so relaxed and almost in a dream-like state, my heart rate might have been 40 beats a minute. I understand how ridiculous this sounds, comparing skydiving to a massage, so I don’t blame you if you don’t believe me—I wouldn’t have either 24 hours ago.

I loved my experience, but I’m not “addicted” to this extreme sport and I may choose to never go back. I think I’ve gained from it everything I needed to and I don’t want to risk a second experience tarnishing the spiritual awakening it was for me.

When you’re free falling 13,000 feet above the earth, your mind can focus on little else but finding the energy to breathe. And maybe that’s what this whole experience helped me to realize. Life is made up of a series of breaths and no matter how stressful or uncomfortable the situation may be, as long as I find the strength and composure to take that one next breath, everything else—just like the world from two miles up—is small in comparison.

First breath out of the plane

Scott during his free fall

Back on the ground, coming off of an adrenaline high!

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25 Comments

Posted by on October 24, 2011 in Life

 

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25 responses to “Finding a New Perspective at 13,000 Feet

  1. The Hook

    October 24, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    “Not much in life shocks or scares me anymore.”
    I wish I could say that! I give you props for taking what you want out of life, young lady.

     
  2. lovelylici1986

    October 24, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    Skydiving is an amazing experience! I did it once, but I definitely wanna go back for me.

     
    • Stephanie Bennis

      October 25, 2011 at 2:12 pm

      Sounds like it was a good experience then! If I were to go back and do it again, I might choose to do it in another country and see that part of the world from that high up.

       
  3. Susan

    October 24, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    There is something Zen about having a clear mind while your body is experiencing the chaos of a free fall.

    I agree that not experiencing emotions is the worst emotion of all. I think numbness leads to apathy and apathy is toxic to other people.

    Cool post!

     
  4. spamfred

    October 25, 2011 at 9:46 am

    What a great post! That’s certainly encouraged me to think a bit differently about some things. Sometimes over thinking things is definitely my downfall and clearing my mind just for a few seconds provides the perspective I have been craving.

     
    • Stephanie Bennis

      October 25, 2011 at 2:11 pm

      It’s always worth taking those few moments to clear your head and refocus. And luckily is doesn’t always require a 13,000 foot fall 🙂

       
  5. Jenbug

    October 25, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    Something out of the ordinary happened today right after I read your blog. The next blog I read was also written by a woman who just completed an extreme activity. While yours was skydiving, hers was zip-lining. Both of you described a sense of calm when you were in the middle of your experience. It makes me wonder, if you are in the right place at the right time, are you going to always feel that sense of calm no matter what the activity is?

    Her accounting of her experience is at this address: http://titabuds.wordpress.com/2011/10/22/on-a-wing-a-prayer/. You might like it!

     
  6. redjim99

    October 25, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    I jumped out of a plane years ago, 7 times! A great experience, second time was the worst. Because you knew what was coming. The sight of the door opening and half the plane vanishing beside you is truly stunning. I didn’t keep going, didn’t have the need for it after finding out I could do it, when others who talked the talk couldn’t. I had some confidence problems back then.

    Now I get kicks from mountains, from writing, from people I meet, the world. I wonder about some peoples need for adrenalin, and what if anything they miss to make them go to further extremes.

    Show people the slow climb to a local hill with fantastic views on a crisp November morning as the sun rises to clear the frost and morning mist. That is truly breathtaking.

    Jim

     
    • Stephanie Bennis

      October 26, 2011 at 8:51 am

      Jim–You hit the nail on the head with my reasons for not wanting or needing to skydive again. I’m worried the second time will either be terrifying and scarring or less exciting. Sometime in the near future I would love to hike Mt. Rainier in Seattle, WA. The slow and beautiful climb would last a lot longer and in my opinion take more strength.

       
  7. beckiblake

    October 26, 2011 at 12:28 am

    I find what Jim said about the second time skydiving being the scariest really interesting. It is definitely scarier to be on the verge of reliving something you have already overcome. I guess the beauty of day to day life is that we never know exactly what’s around the corner; and our bodies do a miraculous job of coping with change. To think back on things I have accomplished or overcome is sometimes surprising (we rarely give ourselves enough credit). Then I remember that my body was is adaptiation mode, and it really wasn’t all that scary.

     
    • Stephanie Bennis

      October 26, 2011 at 9:04 am

      I had a recent, smaller-scale experience where I re-rode a roller coaster I thought I loved. The second time I knew what was coming and I thought my heart was going to stop! I used to work on a political campaign that was hectic and scarring, but I now look back on it with fond memories somehow. I’m trying not to fall into the trap of doing it again, as tempting as it may be, because once I relive it and know what’s coming, I think it would forever ruin the nice memories I have about it now. 🙂

       
  8. Helen War

    October 26, 2011 at 9:25 am

    Heyyy good on you for sky diving. I decided on the Bungee Jump when I visited New Zealand. It was a test of willpower but I didn’t hover on the edge. Yay for us thrill-seekers!

     
  9. ifiwerebraveblog

    October 27, 2011 at 9:46 am

    That sounds amazing. I would love to go sky diving.

     
    • Stephanie Bennis

      October 28, 2011 at 1:53 pm

      I would never push it on someone who truly didn’t want to, but if you have even a small part of you that’s curious, I’d say it’s worth doing! I guess you experience a new sense of living when you think you might be dying 🙂

       
  10. Tess Grant

    October 27, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    I’m a wimp, I admit it. I think I would have chosen the actual massage over skydiving to get the same feeling!

     
    • Stephanie Bennis

      October 28, 2011 at 1:50 pm

      Haha–the whole time up on the plane I kept saying….”I should have just went with the hot air balloon. I HAD to go skydiving!”

       
  11. Rose

    October 28, 2011 at 2:40 am

    Wow, that’s something! 🙂 You are a true brave soul if you did that! Thank you for the inspiration, even if I wouldn’t do it, I so so admire those who can.

     
    • Stephanie Bennis

      October 28, 2011 at 1:50 pm

      A year ago…actually even a month ago I would never have pictured it for myself! If it wasn’t for some motivation and another jumper who went with me I don’t think I would have ever stepped outside my comfort zone to do this.

       
  12. Mama's Empty Nest

    October 29, 2011 at 10:53 am

    Thanks for stopping by my blog today and leaving a comment. I just read your skydiving post with interest because all three of my adult children went skydiving together this fall. They loved it and want to go again…crazy!

     
    • Stephanie Bennis

      November 1, 2011 at 11:00 am

      I can’t argue that its not crazy! Looking through some of my pictures still puts the butterflies in my stomach.

       
  13. jannatwrites

    October 30, 2011 at 12:08 am

    I’m glad you found peace when you did the sky dive. I especially liked your final paragraph and the series of breaths making everything else small in comparison.

    As for me, if I wanted to test my apathy level, I’d go for something closer to the ground, like maybe driving with the car windows down. If I was really adventurous, I could cruise the not-so-nice area of town. Sky diving wouldn’t have crossed my mind! I’m pretty sure I would have been screaming so loud it would have scared the peace right out of me 😉

     
    • Stephanie Bennis

      November 1, 2011 at 11:00 am

      I can’t say the thought of choosing something a littler safer to find my inner peace didn’t crossed my mind–especially as we approached a higher and higher altitude! It’s harder to back out when you’re doing it with someone else 🙂 Maybe that’s a good guide for doing anything daring, even in business. Find a partner to keep you accountable!

       

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