Monday, September 10, 2007

Now I Know Why the Birds Sing

I'm sure the intellectuals among my readers, upon reading this thread's title, thought immediately of the classic Maya Angelou book entitled "Now I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings". In a sense, I suppose her book is partially responsible for me naming this thread as such. However, the circumstances surrounding this particular instance are slightly different. You see, the birds of which I speak are not caged. They are not restricted, withheld, or constrained. Rather, they are free to fly as high as the wind beneath their wings will allow them to ascend. Why do I suddenly proclaim to know why they sing? Because this past weekend, I was one of them.

I've never been the type of person who questions things from the perspective of why they should be done. For the majority of my 25 years, while most around me have been busy questioning "Why?", I've been asking "Why not?". Skydiving is one of those things 99.9% of the world's population will always question from the skeptical perspective of "Why?" During the days leading up to my first jump, nearly everyone I encountered, both young and old, questioned my sanity and of course never failed to pose the question "Why?". This skeptical point of view is also the very reason they'll never experience the most amazing adrenaline rush available to man. Well, that and the overwhelming emotion we all experience at some point in time known as fear.

Fear is probably the most interesting emotion humans feel. Everyone reacts to it in a completely different manner. However, for the most part, reaction to the emotion of fear can be broken down into two categories: those who run from it, and those who face it. Those who run from it are often viewed as cowards. While I do not completely agree with this point of view, I do believe it to be valid in certain situations. Skydiving isn't for everyone. I acknowledge that. Yet after experiencing it, I wholeheartedly recommend it to everyone in a physical condition sufficient to allow them to take the plunge. Ultimately, I think running from fear is more of a survival instinct than anything.

Those of us who choose to come face-to-face with fear see things through a different pair of spectacles. We subscribe to the idea that the best way to overcome a fear as opposed to succumbing to is to just do it. And not only that, we do it without thinking about it. Never second guess yourself. Often times the first choice is the better one. Questioning one's self is human nature. Yet the less time one spends second guessing themselves is time that could be spent actually making things happen.

Don't think for one second that I don't have my own fears that I succumb to from time to time, because I do. While many of you may have a fear of heights or a fear of death that keeps you from jumping out of a plane, my fears are socially centered. I would much rather stare death in the eye by jumping out of a plane than approach a beautiful woman in a social setting. And, just as I acknowledge the validity of fears others face, so to do I believe my fear to be valid. However, lately I've begun to face it. My running days are behind me. I approached a beautiful young woman when I was out last weekend, and I was successful. And you know what else? It felt great. Even if I had failed that particular attempt, I have a strong suspicion it still would have felt at the very least, somewhat good because I faced my fear. So what am I suggesting? Jump out of that plane. Whatever fear your metaphorical airplane may represent, jump out of it. Face it. You'll be happy you did.

At the same time, I'm strongly suggesting you go skydiving. Regardless of your level of desire or fear, just do it. You will see things in an entirely different light once your feet are once again firmly planted on terra firma. We're only given a short amount of time on this earth. Human beings were not meant to be chained to a cubicle day after day. Take advantage of your time, because you never know when you roll out of bed in the morning and your feet hit the floor, if that day may be your last. Experience things. You'll be glad you did.

As for the actual skydive itself, words can't truly do it justice. It was the greatest experience I've ever had. To begin with, I was terribly excited to do it. Yet in the back of my head I thought I might have just a little bit of fear once I was in the air and the door opened, but that that wasn't the case. I felt this amazing sense of calm. As the door opened at 15,000 feet, and I stood at the threshold of uncertainty, I'm not even sure my heart rate changed. Before I knew it, gravity had me speeding towards earth at 120 mph. For just a split second I had that falling feeling in my stomach, but it quickly turned into a feeling of weightlessness and floating. That's terminal velocity for you. The 60 second free fall felt like forever. As you can see in the video I had a permanent grin on my face. Everything is coming at you so fast that you really don't have time to think when, at about 5000 feet, you deploy your parachute. Suddenly everything goes silent, and you know exactly what it feels like to be a bird, with the sky literally being the limit. From that point you catch your breath and enjoy the view for the 5 minute ride to the bottom. There is literally nothing like it. Special thanks to the guys and girls out at Carolina Sky Sports. Check them out at

The general feel of things is different now. I see things in a different light. I can't really explain it because it's such a new feeling. As I come to terms with this I'll talk more about it in an additional post. If I can jump out of a plane nearly 3 miles in the sky, what can't I do?

Now I know why the birds sing.

Here's the video:

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