So You Think You Can Jump . . .

Posted by on Nov 10, 2012 in Blog | 12 comments

Nov. 8, 2012

 

View from the up here!

Hello friends!

First, I’m going to talk about you .  

Thank you for joining me on this journey of living this year as if it were the last year of my life.  In my first last post I promised to share some exercises from the book I’m using for this experiment.  I know something about this experiment may feel kind of morbid or heavy, I totally get that and I have to tell you, since I started this in September I have never felt more alive.

Two examples of things to consider, in your first month, as you live this year as if it were your last, from the book, “A Year to Live” by Stephen Levine:   

  1. Explore how it could benefit you to “make a one year commitment to consciousness and healing”.
  2. Reflect on what your thoughts and feelings might be if you received a one-year prognosis. What life changes might you make?  New projects?  Unfinished business?   This is the time to begin a journal to capture all of it.

Now, a bit about me and my latest “A Year to LIve” adventure…

What do you pack for a trip where you jump out of the plane? 

Forty-five minutes after leaving Tel Aviv by car we reach, Paradive.  We are greeted by a young woman with a nose ring, carrying a clipboard.

This may be the end for you..please sign.

I sit down and on four pieces of paper, sign my life away.  I promise that if I die they are not responsible and that if I damage anything, I take full responsibility.  It’s leading me to think that if I die, I am going to owe them money!

In a heavy Israeli accent, the young woman says to me; “When your name is called,  stand on the platform to get your harness.”

Fifteen minutes later, I hear my name called.  I instantly think, “No! I need more time to live.  I’m not ready to die!”  

I step onto the small raised platform.  Everyone is speaking Hebrew and gets paired up with their instructor.  I start to feel panicky, like maybe I don’t have an instructor.  Maybe no one speaks English!

Then I hear a voice behind me say, “Tracey?”

I turn around.  There’s a tall, young, Israeli version of George Clooney.  “I’m Dan”, he says.  “Today, it is my job to keep you alive.”  He picks out a jumpsuit for me and asks, “So, why are you doing this?”

Tracey and the man responsible for her life.

“Great question, Dan. I am living this year as if it were the last year of my life and skydiving is on my list.”  Dan looks at me and says, “I live like that everyday.  You know this stuff they’re saying about December 21, 2012?  Well, I thought, what if they’re right!?  What if the world will end in a month?  I live as if that’s true.  I’m making sure I do everything I want to do before that day comes.”

And this is exactly how calm you’ll be when you are free falling out of the plane.

Dan takes me through the positions I will be in at various stages of the jump.  I desperately try to memorize this pattern of movements and signals he’ll give me as we jump.  He says, “The most important thing is to breathe.  Some people forget to breathe. Let’s go. It’s time.”

We head out to the plane on the runway.  I am the first to board. I climb up a stepladder into the middle of the small old aircraft.   “Watch your head.”, he says.   It’s a low ceiling, you do not stand up in here.   We walk, bent over, towards the cockpit of the 30 foot long belly of the plane, there are no seats.  “You’ll be sitting between my legs”.  OK, George Clooney.

There are twelve of us sitting on the floor. Each inside the others legs, in two rows.  The door shuts and we start moving.  There’s no turning back.

Dan is wearing a digital watch type contraption that tells us what altitude we’ve reached.  He shows me his watch.  6,200 feet.  He says we are going to 11,500 feet.  We get to 9,000, then 11,000. He helps secure my helmet and eye goggles.   He shows me his watch again, we’re at 12,500 feet!  He yells into my helmet, “We never climb this high on a weekend day, you must have done something good!”  

My heart’s racing.  He tightens the straps on my harness one last time.  Out of the small plane window I see the Mediterranean Sea, brown desert and mountains.  We are high up.  Like, high up.  Like 4 kilometers in the air, UP!

One of the instructors gets up and opens the door…of the plane!!

I watch as a videographer steps out of the plane and seems to stand on I don’t what, but is some how standing outside the plane!  Then an instructor and his jumper slide themselves, like crabs, along the floor towards the door.  The jumper sits between her instructors legs at the edge, her legs dangling into space and then they jump. 

Making our way to the open door.

Everyone inside slides a bit closer to the door.  Soon, all the people who were in the plane have jumped, except the pair beside us.  The blonde girl sits on the edge of the plane’s open door, strapped to her instructor and makes all kinds of noises, squeals, yelps and cries.  Dan says, “That’s the sound of hysteria.”  Oh, awesome.

My breathing is fast and shallow.   The hysterical girl and her instructor fall out of the plane.  We’re the only one’s left.  We shimmy up like crabs to the edge of the abyss.

View over my shoulder, right before the jump.

I see wide-open space.  I cannot believe I am going to let go and free fall into nothingness.  I arch my back and rest my head against Dan’s chest.  He says, “Bend your legs like you’re putting them under the plane.”  Then….he pushes and we fall out of the plane.  I screeeeeam.

The first moment out of the plane.

Falling . . . . 

It’s an indescribable feeling.  Free fall.  Nothing to catch or stop you.

I spread my arms and I am flying.  It is surreal and amazing and incredible and bizarre and I LOVE it.   We free fall for almost a minute and then Dan pulls his parachute.  Our bodies are yanked by the parachute.  We are gliding now.

He starts to give me tour.  “Welcome to my office”, he says.  “Over there is Mount Carmel and look at the coulour of the water.  It’s a perfect day to jump.  A f*^king amazing day.  I like you, I’m going to keep you up a bit longer.“

I see ancient ruins on the ground way below us and the water, the water is mind blowingly beautiful.  Green and turquois and so, so blue.   Dan says, “Now I’m going to stop us.”  We are sitting in space.  “Close your eyes”.  I smell the salty sea air and feel the cool breeze.

Free falling

 

 

A few moments later he tells me to assume the landing position.  I tuck my knees, his feet that hit the ground before mine.  Then I land.  Terra firma.  He says, “Feel that beneath your feet?  That’s the earth.”

“Feel Free to Fly” is the motto of this Israeli skydiving centre.  And today, I did just that.  And have lived to see another day of my “A Year to Live” experiment! 

What’s your equivalent to skydiving and what are you waiting for? 

Thanks for reading and for being you!

Love,

Tracey

12 Comments

  1. This made me cry. Is that weird? So exciting. And the jumping was neat too.

    • That is so not weird, Marj! This spirit is alive in you and so, I think, it speaks to your soul. Thanks for reading! xox

  2. Wow Trace.
    I feel like I was there with you. From your fabulous writing to the awesome pictures. Sounds like it was beyond amazing. I give you credit for doing this, something I don’t think I would have the courage to do. You looked great and so relaxed.
    Looking forward to reading the next installment. I think I’m gonna have a very exciting year with (through) you.
    Love,
    Janice

    • Hey Janice! Thanks so much. I am thrilled you’ll belong for the ride! And thank you for your kind words. xox

  3. My one, brief visit to Israel, I felt like the energy of the whole country is based on, “we might have only one year, or less, or a little more, to live,” so everybody felt so present and alive. Didn’t occur to me at the time that I could make the choice to do the same. LOVE your skydiving story, Tracey, including the Israeli George Clooney bit – their accent alone makes me weak in the knees, what a combination of forces, up there and all the way down! wowzers.

    • Janine, you are so right and I had thought of it quite as succinctly as you’ve put it. Thanks for reading and for your great comment! xox

  4. OMG – so exciting! I have terrible vertigo and don’t think I could do it (even though I have plenty of flying dreams). You have balls of steel, Agent Smith! Love you. xoxo

    • Dear Rill,
      Thanks so much for this. There are many magic and brave things you already rock the world with! Keep it up!
      Love,
      Agent Smith

  5. I am speechless and inspired! Love the journey you are on-need some of your sparkle dust my way.
    xo
    catherine

    • Dear Catherine,

      Thanks! So, does that mean we’ll have that coffee soon?

      Love,
      Tes

  6. Tracey this is awesome. My version of a skydive? Actually putting myself out there, with my art, my writing. Putting me, my heart, and soul, and courageous, fearful little big self out there. Sitting here trembling, on the precipice of a grand new adventure, holding my breath at the rush of wind, thinking…thinking…am I ready, and for Christ’s sake, if not now, when? And if Tracey can do this…then why not me? Of course.

    • Dear Susan!!

      So great to hear from you! Of course, you can do ANYTHING you want! You are full of magic, and you my friend, can really make people (including me) laugh. What a gift!

      Love,
      Tracey

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