Some just shook their heads, while others exclaimed, "OOH! I've always wanted to do that too!"
But regardless of opinions pro and con, there I was about to skydive for the first time. My opinion, when you hit 50 you are embarking on the third and final chapter of your life. Now would be an acceptable time for a few plot twists.
I wasn't a bit afraid, until the instructor began giving me pre-flight instructions. I suppose I had presumed his title was purely honorary or something. Up until the instructions started, my perception of the experience had been:
1.) Pay $200.
2.) Get securely fastened to a professional skydiver.
3.) Jump from plane, land without incident.
So learning I was expected to do certain things and do them correctly made me a little uneasy. Knowing me as I do, and recalling that I have messed up a thing or two along the way, maybe this skydiving wasn't such a great idea after all?
Just a little male pride was enough to get me through. Quickly, all the chutes were packed, we were suited up and bustling onto the airplane. Not much time for second thoughts.
At 15,000 feet, I was somewhat nervous when the plane door was opened. I've been on lots of aircraft before, but never one with the door open. But by then, we're going. Stand in the doorway, rock forward on ONE, TWO, and on THREE thrust hips forward with all your might, and there you are!
Freefall was a little frightening. I had meant to yell "Geronimo!" as I've heard is customary, but just remembering to breathe was a chore. After that hard jerk of the canopy opening though, it is all worth it. We floated down through clouds towards a landscape that looked so much more beautiful than it had at ground level.
I would have been happy to stay up there an hour like that, but you know gravity. All too soon my feet were in the gravel of the landing area, and it was over.
So now what can I do with this experience? I intend to use it as a motivational tool, sort of my own personal "If they can put a man on the moon" thing.
When faced with something I don't particularly feel like doing, but know I should, I resolve to say: "Now anybody who can jump out of an airplane ought to be able to do this!"
We'll see what trouble that attitude gets me into in the near future!