Skydivers Are Not Brave
…well not always.
As a skydiver…
You often hear friends and families talk about how they are not ‘brave’ enough to jump out of a perfectly good aeroplane. Or equally “gosh, you’re so brave”. Personally, brave is not something I would have ever used to describe myself (not that I put all that much time into describing myself anyway).
The brave beginning.
I remember the moment when I decided to book in for my AFF course. The mood I was in wasn’t particularly fearless or brave. The moment was not unusual. I was not revved up as if I was ready to run out on the field for a football grand final. It wasn’t the serious type of determination you get when you’ve decided to paddle for a wave that scares the living shit out of you, but you know once you’ve decided that you have to commit or you’ll probably get hurt.
Most likely I was just guilty of being hyped up on caffeine, but that’s a daily occurrence for me. To put it simply, I don’t think I was being brave because I really did not feel any real reason to be scared.
Why I booked my course.
According to a quick Google search, multiple sources reveal that the average amount of conscious decisions a fully grown human (adult) makes every single day equals about 35,000.
I don’t know about you, but I had to read that figure twice. That’s a lot of choices. Everyone’s motivations behind decision making can be complicated and complex. For me personally, I have a tendency to say ‘yes’. So when I was asked if I ever wanted to learn to skydive, the answer was as simple as it was predictable.
Let’s be clear. I’m going to be totally honest here, on the day of my first solo skydive – I was suddenly scared.
The fear wasn’t really unexpected. I mean – when you start a course on skydiving, you know it’s going to come to a point when you will be boarding an aircraft with your own parachute on. At that moment, your subconscious doesn’t have to be working all that hard to recognise at the top of the flight you’re going to jump out. Out into thin air, into the big blue, the unknown.
‘Bravery’ – is defined as being ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage. I’ve never thought about it until now, but I guess I was brave. After getting on the plane, I was white-faced, self-doubting and scared but I was ready to face my fears. It was strange, I was not really worried about something going wrong. I was worried about what I would miss out on if something did. Who would miss me and if I really needed to do what I was doing, who would I miss.
That moment is something that will never leave my memory. It’s for the right reasons. It only took a minute for my fears to peak, then I looked over at the calm, happy faces of my instructors. They weren’t scared. They were positively enthusiastic, excited and comfortable. My worries dissolved almost immediately and that contagious excitement washed over me. The adrenaline speeding fast through my veins seemed to effortlessly switch from fear to nervous excitement. I closed my eyes and ran through the plan.
In the moment.
The flight to altitude seemed to defy the laws of time. I felt like I had hours to go over my plan for the jump. It was also like it was only minutes after takeoff I felt the rush of cool air from the exit-door being opened 15,000ft above the ocean.
Nonetheless, I stiffly shuffled my body to the exit door. One instructor already outside of the plane in the breeze, awaiting me. The other instructor right by my side with a firm grasp on my leg and shoulder grips.
At this moment, there was no room for any thoughts other than the routine which we had rehearsed on the ground. This routine had also been running through my mind since then. I called out as loud as my tense body would let me “CHECK IN” “CHECK OUT” “HORIZON”…..
Out and down.
From the moment you leave the aircraft to the moment your feet touch the ground feels like one giant emotional experience. For me, it was like a percentage thing. After every single second of the jump, I felt increasingly confident and ecstatic. By the time my feet stepped back down onto planet earth, I was absolutely pumped! Ready to go back up on the next flight.
Skydivers are not brave.
If being brave is being scared yet still having the courage to persevere, then I think nearly all skydive students are definitely brave.
However, it surprised me to realise that skydivers are generally not being brave when they go for one of their regular jumps. They are not scared. They’re excited. They no longer need to be brave, they can just enjoy the wondrous unique sport of gravity surfing – skydiving.
By Nick Smith
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