I jumped out of an airplane and I jumped back into my life. It’s now been a few years since I stepped into thin air, it will always be a significant mile marker on my creative journey. I was recently divorced and my daughter was about to move out. (For all you about to be empty nesters—don’t get too excited—those little birds you push out of the nest have a way of flying back into that safe nest.) The offer to jump was a gift from a friend for big birthday I was about to have.
It started with a casual conversation with my friend saying, “You may think I’m crazy, but I’m thinking of skydiving.” I didn’t think it was crazy and I replied, “Cool, I could do that.” He was surprised by my answer and said that if I’d jump it would be a gift for my 50th birthday. So we set the date and of course started telling everyone we knew. What surprised me was while his friends were in disbelief and thought he’d back out, my friends weren’t surprised and had no doubt that I’d do it.
I was always surprised by how others view of me differed from my own. Internally I was emotionally beaten up from what had been a difficult marriage. I felt once a woman became a certain age, she often becomes invisible to society. But others saw that inner Connie light shining, even if I felt it had dimmed.
I remember watching Peter Pan on TV when I was a little girl. There’s a point in the story when Tinkerbelle starts to lose her power and Peter Pan turns to the TV audience and tells them to clap to let Tinkerbelle know you believed in her. I remember standing in front of that TV and clapping and clapping and watching the light of Tinkerbelle get stronger and stronger. That’s what my friends’ confidence in me did in this stretch of my life’s journey. It made my inner light stronger. I am now no longer invisible.
Keep Moving Forward
The day of the jump dawned into a beautiful, cool, crisp spring day. You have to jump in tandem with an experienced skydiver and there’s a simple training they put you through that takes about an hour. Those details have become a little fuzzy. But I remember every detail of the jump itself. I was excited and keenly aware of the symbolism of what this jump meant for me. I knew in my core that I would land safely. Symbolically and in reality I believe that if you take a leap, the universe will help you land where you are meant to be. I wanted to stay present in every moment of this adventure.
There was friendly talk as the plane climbed into the sky. One guy joked about when people asked him why would he jump out of a perfectly good plane, he would reply that the plane is really not really that good as he pointed to where it was duck taped together. But that didn’t scare me. The diver I was tethered to wasn’t much of a talker, which suited my excited, yet contemplative state of mind.
The time came to jump. I had total confidence in who I was tethered to, but that moment of stepping out of the plane…hanging on the wing, feeling the cold wind in my face and knowing that I had to let go…was a moment of pure terror. I put my foot on the tiny step outside of the plane and held tightly onto the wing. I was full of fear and at the point of no going back.
Then I Let Go
And I let go of the fear and I only felt the exhilaration of free fall. I could feel and hear the wind whistling past and I felt the power of the fall against my skin. I could see for miles. Because you don’t have anything grounding you, there is not a feeling of a fear of heights like when you look over the edge of a tall building. I just felt the energy and adrenaline pumping through my veins.
Then the parachute opens. And you enter the Zen of the jump. The world become silent, timeless and you are floating in air. This was the unexpected part for me…the silence…and the floating feeling. Floating in a pool is lovely, but you still feel the pull of gravity. Once that chute opens, you no longer feel the gravitational pull. The seconds turn into minutes and you know it will be over soon, but while you are in this quiet space, time stands still.
I had been told to keep my legs up and to slide on landing. Soon enough I felt the ground beneath me. This was the biggest adrenaline rush of my life. I felt the power of that rush and the reality of the total exhilaration of jumping into my life.
Be fearless and take the leap.