When I was in Kenya two years ago, I started a list in the back of my journal of things I wanted to do or accomplish during my life, what some people have affectionately begun to call a bucket list. Originally I had in mind to have 100 special goals on the list, but I'm still only up to 55. They vary in complexity, expense, and how easy they will be to complete- reading the complete works of Shakespeare is time consuming, but not as involved as spending at least a day in each of the 50 states. Some of them are very involved but I've made good headway on them. Visiting every continent is a big goal, but I'm over halfway done with it. As for seeing the east and west coast of every ocean- I've achieved that for all of them except the Arctic, and I'm figuring out what the east and west coasts of the Arctic ocean really involve. Maybe I'll end up going to northern Alaska and Northern Norway. Both of those would also assist me with my goal of seeing the Northern lights at least once.
But, like I said, I've still only gotten up to 55 items on the list, and that's only after I pulled it back out this weekend and added a few more to it. One of them, whether or not this is cheating, I added right after I'd done it. It wasn't really something I'd dreamed of doing, but I'm really glad I did it.
This addition to the bucket list, which some might think would put the kicking the bucket part into the bucket list, was skydiving. I have some very active friends in Salt Lake, and some of them decided recently that they were going. TO be honest, I mostly just felt like it would be some kind of admission of defeat to turn down the opportunity. I knew that I would always wonder what it would have been like- so I signed up, and this last Saturday morning found me driving out to nowhereland- I mean, Toelle- suiting up in a harness, and getting on a very small plane.
I'll be completely honest- I was so nervous that I didn't think about it all week because I knew my mind would just work itself in circles. But somehow, once I was there and on the tiny plane and soaring up in the air, my logical brain just couldn't figure out waht I was doing and shut off. I wasn't nervous at all- just fascinated.
There were seven of us, so Heather, Cassaundra, Jared, and Trevor jumped first on the first plane, and then Costley, Amy, and I went up second with another girl.
I was jumping last, so I got to watch Costley and Amy and the other girl on the plane with us hurtle out into space. That was pretty surreal, to watch them fall away from the plane. Then it was my turn. My jump partner, Brian, had secured our harnesses together, and he guided me to the door of the plane, where I put my toes over the edge, and before I really had time to register where I was, we were out, falling through the air at over 100 miles per hour.
I would have screamed out of pure instinct, but I couldn’t get the breath to do it. We fell face up horizontally for a bit; I remember seeing the plane in the air above me, and then we rotated, and I was staring at the earth, so far down- so far away. It was so bizarre to think that I was plummeting towards it, so fast that my lips were flapping in the wind, but I was so high up that it didn’t look like we were getting any closer. One thing they instructed us to do was to breathe through our teeth, or getting a breath of air would be like drinking through a fire hydrant. That was pretty accurate.
We were in freefall for about a minute before Brian pulled the dragline and then the chute. I got a bit of a jolt with that, which might have been the worst sensation I experienced. There was no feeling like I’d lost my stomach or anything at any point. Then we were just hanging in midair under a parachute, up so, so high, and falling gradually downwards. Brian used the steering lines to do some spins, which were fine at first but then made me feel nauseated. I did keep feeling kind of ill after that, which was a bummer, but it was still an amazing experience. I was surprised at how much control those steering lines gave us. It was especially useful when we got near the ground and Brian was able to get us right over the landing field by pulling left and right. The landing itself was incredibly smooth, too. Brian told me to keep my feet up so his touched the ground first- if mine touched first, we would end up landing on my face. So I pulled my feet way up high, and touching down ended up to be a very gentle, safe experience.
When I got home, I remembered my bucket list. I hadn't looked at it or thought about it for over a year, but I felt completely justified in pulling it back out and added "go skydiving" to the list, with a big check next to it. Then I kept it out and looked at it and mulled it over for a while. I was surprised to see that I had achieved one or two things on there without even consciously remembering the bucket list. There are a couple other things on there that are being set in motion right now. I added a few things to it as well, some silly, some serious. Life is so amazing. I went to see "The Lion King" with Laura this last week, and the lines from "The Circle of Life" keep playing through my head: "From the day we arrive on this planet and blinking, step into the sun- there's more to see than can ever be seen, more to do than can ever be done." Sometimes I feel like I don't want to sleep because there's so much to experience and do and live for- and I don't want to miss it. Life is my great adventure, no matter what it brings- joy and sorrow, ease or challenges, quiet night laying in the backyard and looking at the stars or falling from the sky with a parachute on my back. I don't find it hard to believe that I sang for joy with the morning stars when I knew I got to come to earth.