Mike Ponders Skydiving

So, as I sit here recovering from yet another surgery, in pain, my head swelling from the incisions made by the surgeons, my hip ripping (or so it feels) from where the cut to get the bone marrow was performed; as I sit here staring at the cover of the latest Parachutist magazine I have to wonder if I love skydiving that much.

I sit here, my mind wandering slightly, slipping off into the regions only known by cobwebs, places which I dare not roam or consider, for I may come up with answers I'm too afraid of knowing.

Can anyone imagine putting themself thru so much pain to skydive? Certainly not voluntarily. For the love of skydiving would be so great if everyone did. But then again, perhaps skydiving is the answer to all of our pains. Perhaps, in someway, we all are experiencing some pain with which skydiving provides a tremendous relief.

As part of the preparation for skydiving, how many individuals would let you "kick them in the nuts" before making that first jump. I mean, as part of the first jump class the instructor says, "In order to fully appreciate the amazing feat which you are about to undertake, I will have to kick each and everyone of you in the balls." In fact, suppose each student had to kick the other students in the nuts, until everyone had kicked everyone else.

"Now you are ready to appreciate skydiving and the beauty it has to offer."

So, I sit here, my mind learing from the pain, my head literally feeling like it is going to explode, so I wonder, do I love skydiving that much?

Certainly, this is already a 'fait accompli,' or an 'accomplished fact.' I don't have a choice to answer this question voluntarily. The question has been put forth already. And maybe I have the question all wrong.

Maybe the question isn't whether I love skydiving that much, maybe the question is if I love life that much. Right now, it is still very confusing to me. Impossible it seems to rip the two apart, skydiving is life, life is skydiving. At least, at the time before my accident, that is certainly what I was thinking. Life is skydiving.

What was my life before skydiving? And so I sit reading my parachutist, I see the enthusiasm exuded by every picture, by every word, by every advertisement, by every memorium, by every award, by every page I glance at; and I wonder now.

Can my answer simply be 'Yes'? Yes, I love life? Yes, I love skydiving? Yes, skydiving is life? Yes, life is skydiving? Are the two inseparable?

For me, the two were inseparable. In some unknown way to me, but which many thousands of people worldwide know and have experienced, skydiving is life. Skydiving defined me somehow. And, clearly, it defines others as well.

We all can not tell you how it has changed our life. Yet with every word at every boogie, before and after evey jump, after we wake up, before we go to sleep, when we are about to eat a meal, before we inhale and after we exhale, when we sit at our computer ready to type a word; it is clear how skydiving has affected each and everyone of us.

Perhaps, this last statement is the best explanation as to why we love skydiving. It is the word, "WE". Yes, we, as in all of us, the family of skydivers, experiencing a sensation which can not be formulated into words to describe the euphoria.

Our spirits intertangle on each dive, blowing in the wind; twisting around each other like whisps of smoke, becoming one, only to become ourselves again at the end of the dive. When we land, our faces aglow, common is our experience; unified our spirits, with each other, with the wonderous mother Earth, with life itself, our lives and our friends lives.

Our eyes tell so much in the air, to each of us a single glance expresses feelings a thousand words cannot achieve. The saying, "Skydiving is better than sex," can this be true? Perhaps it is equivalent, for on some level, we share a common experience with our fellow skydiver that we don't share with everyone we know. Unique, beautiful and enriching is the experience, beyond poor words; beyond experiences we've lived before.

So, now I sit here, broken, wondering if I will ever experience the joy of skydiving again. Seriously pondering if my passion will continue to thrive, or somehow my spirit will turn bitter as the one true love of my spirit is jerked away from me without a choice.

My words escaping me now, just like they escape trying to define a skydive to a 'whuffo.'

I don't know.

May 29,1998