It's funny how a major illness will change your outlook. I actually smiled and gave a thumbs up when I reached the door of the airplane and tumbled out. I enjoyed the entire trip from 18,000ft back down to sea level.
That's right, I jumped out of a perfectly good airplane! And I loved it! I feel like I've conquered a lifelong fear.
(Check out the plane in the background of the photograph.)
My brother Todd and my intrepid wife Wendy (who I think only agreed to do this as a huge favor) joined me on December 6th, 2008 at Skydive Monterey Bay for a tandem jump from 18,000ft (the highest you can legally jump in California) to free fall for a full 90 seconds before gliding gracefully to the ground.
I splurged for an "in-flight" video and I'm glad I did. Here's the entire experience captured skillfully by Jamie from Skydive Monterey Bay.
I asked the guy strapped to my back if he could do some cool stuff on the way down like a head first dive or a somersault or something. I figured if I'm going to do this, I might as well do it right. He didn't seem to too keen on this idea but took pity on me about half way down and spun us around pretty fast.
The day wasn't without it's scary moments however. After our chute deployed and we were floating calmly around, "guy-strapped-to-my-back" points out toward the ocean where a parachute is floating listlessly away with nobody underneath it. He informs me that it's a "cut away". It apparently didn't open correctly and had to be cut away so that whoever was under it could deploy their backup shoot.
Guess whose parachute this was? Yes, you guessed correctly: it was Wendy. She made it safely to the ground though and now has a great story to tell about this experience. This would happen to her with our luck this year. "Guy-strapped-to-her-back" said he's jumped over 3000 times and this has only happened to him 3 times. Pretty low odds....
Here are some additional pictures. You can also see all the pictures on my flickr account.
(Keep your mouth closed stupid...)
(Such a beautiful view.)
There's a blogger named Kairol Rosenthal who previously beat cancer and writes prolifically about how cancer affects young adults like herself. Recently she wrote about becoming more cautious since her cancer. I think I've gone a little bit in the other direction, throwing caution to the wind and doing some things I've always wanted to but never had the guts to. Then again, I've always been a little "buttoned-down" so maybe I'm just moving more toward "normal". If nothing else I think my life is richer from this experience. Not only did I conquer a deep fear, but it was probably the single most exhilarating thing I've ever done.