Thursday, May 26, 2011

Skydiving Pt 2

In today’s modern world, there are very few chances for a man (or woman) to test his “mettle,” to see what he is made of.  By and large, that’s a good thing.  Most of the ways people learned truths about themselves used to involve feats of stupidity, animal cruelty, or dangerous drugs.  Usually, it involved all three.
Once, over a decade ago, I got the chance to test my own mettle.  My brother took me to the REI flagship store in Seattle.  Inside, they had built the largest freestanding climbing structure for their customers to test equipment before they bought it.  Anyone could climb for free, and I wanted to try.
I remember it looking a lot less like a penis.
See, I’m a bit afraid of heights.  I have two recurring nightmares: one is about falling and the other is about sharks.  Fear is one of those things I hate, because it makes you run your life in ways you don’t want to.  I guess, like Mrs. Dubose, I want to be beholden to nothing and nobody.  Sure, there are drugs and therapy, but it’s not enough to face my fears.  I want to force myself down their throats and choke them from the inside.  If you fail, so what?  The point was you tried and learned something new about yourself.
I suppose I could just join the military and...  Oh... Ew.  Never mind.
At the REI structure, there are four routes up they suggest for beginners.  One of them has an overhang you have to figure out how to get over.  After looking at them all, my brother suggested any of the routes except the one with the overhang.  Guess which one I chose?
Felt like this.
It wasn’t that I didn’t trust my brother, quite the opposite.  I trusted him to find the scariest, most difficult climb for me.  He was right (as always).  It took me over an hour to make it to the top and I was sweating with fear and exertion the whole time.  When I got down, they told me the whole trip really had only taken me six minutes.  Funny how time works in your mind.
Was more like this.
A little while later I interviewed with a company for a game job.  It was a terrible experience (they took one of my ideas but didn’t hire me), but I started emailing a woman who had interviewed me.  She told me about how she took an accelerated free fall skydiving class; how she had to climb out on the wing by herself to do her first dive.
Here's a hint.
I was entranced.  For years, I thought about it.  I didn’t want to do the tandem jump, where you were strapped to someone.  Where was the challenge in that?  What did you learn about yourself from that?  I wanted to know if I would throw myself out of an airplane.  If I chickened out, who cares?  The point was to learn something about myself.

I have some qualms, but I’ll talk about those tomorrow.

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