Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Because I've Always Wanted To

I've always wanted to go sky diving just to be able to say that I did it. But I have an immense fear of heights that never let me get anywhere near this activity. Until last weekend... :-)

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.

Yes, Two Thumbs Up Indeed
(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.

What 120mph Wind Does to Your Face
(Keep your mouth closed stupid...)

Good God It's Pretty From Up Here
(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.


hockeychic said...

I have always wanted to go skydiving and like you, I suffer from a major fear of heights. Maybe this will give me the kick that I need to do it! Glad you did it and had a blast! Great pictures!

MrsMattman said...

Right on! I agree, since being diagnosed, I am less careful about things. Gotta experience the life left in the years I have!

Anonymous said...

I never wanted to skydive before I got CML and I still do not want to skydive. However, I am throwing things away around the house, or giving away/donating them like crazy.

I used to worry that I might need it or want it later. Now, not so much.

My perspective has totally changed and so have my priorities.
Denise in Santa Clara

Mike said...

DUDE! That is so awesome! Thanks for sharing that video! I swear I was getting sweaty palms when everyone was jumping out! So what's next? You've set the bar pretty high!

Everything Changes said...

Thank God one of us is jumping out of planes! Your post has forced me to scour my brain to see if cancer has made me less afraid of SOMETHING. Spiders. Stil scare the hell out of me, but I now have enough courage to smash them myself with a shoe. Nowhere near as cool as jumping out of a plane.

Annie - Steven's mom said...

Awesome!!!!! Totally. You make me smile with this blog - well done - both you and Wendy :) What an experience.
Love and light