2 posts categorized ‘Chasing the Dream’

Path to Skydiving

When I was still in grade school, my dad went skydiving. Someone he worked with was a skydiver and talked my dad into giving it a try. I already dreamed of being able to fly, so watching my dad jump from an airplane and fly that parachute to the ground left quite the impression on me.

Even the fact that he broke his ankle landing never phased me. He jumped under the old style round parachute. Those bring you down fairly quickly so you have to roll when you hit the ground. Unfortunately for my dad, he landed on a slope and when he rolled his ankle broke.

That took place in 1987. Fast forward to 1996. I’m a 20 year old full time college student and full time factory worker. One morning as I was reading the newspaper I saw that a skydiver died at the same place my dad had gone skydiving.

The article mentioned that the skydiver’s parachute did not fully deploy. While trying to fix the parachute the experienced skydiver had apparently lost awareness of the fact that he was plummeting towards the ground. Instead of releasing the main chute and deploying the reserve, the unfortunate skydiver tried in futility to fix the main.

Later that day I searched the Internet for a phone number for the skydiving club that runs the operation at that airport. I figured now was my time to become a skydiver. The odds of someone dieing two weeks in a row at the same airport were incredibly remote, so this was the safest time of any.

On Monday I talked to the owner of the club, and I was put on the schedule to take lessons and make my first jump the following Saturday. After my training I loaded into the airplane with two other student skydivers making their first jumps.

I was to go second. I thought that would be a good thing since I would be able to see someone else do it first. My thinking was that watching someone else successfully jump would help calm my nerves before I had to climb out on that wing and jump myself.

Well watching the fear in that man’s face as he exited the airplane only made me more nervous. I was surprised at how easily I managed to force myself to swing my legs out of the door, grab the strut of the wing, and stand up on the landing gear.

I next worked my way up the strut of the wing until I was no longer able to touch the landing gear with my feet. I then looked over at my jump master, and when he gave me the thumbs up, I let go.

There simply are not words for what it feels like to go skydiving. It is the most amazing feeling, and you get the highest of adrenaline rushes.

After my successful landing, I was walking back to the hangar and talking to the people I had jumped with. I ran into the trailing edge of the wing of the airplane we had jumped from and hit my head. It wasn’t until the blood started to trickle down my head that I realized that I had hurt myself on the wing. Now that is an adrenaline rush!

It was such a great experience that I made 7 more jumps before hanging up the parachute and earning my wings.

Make Life Happen

Somehow when I was a kid and even a young adult, I knew that the secret to life was to make life happen.  When I was 23, I had a full-time job in my chosen career.  I owned a house, I was a pilot, and I owned an airplane.

I remember thinking back then that I had accomplished my goal of becoming a pilot and owning an airplane.  I accomplished my goal of getting a good job in my chosen field and owning a house.  I also remember thinking that I didn’t have any new goals in life.  Unfortunately I started to become complacent.

Instead of making life happen, I was sitting back letting life happen.  When you sit back and let life happen, it does indeed happen.  Oh boy does it ever!  I lost my good job and eventually replaced it with another job in my field, but I was making only 2/3 of what I was at my previous job.

Suddenly instead of having extra money to invest for retirement every month, I was struggling to find money to fly.  I stupidly decided to keep the airplane, forgo investing in my retirement, and settle for my low paying job rather than finding another good paying job.

Fast forward a few years, and I met my future wife.  I’m not sure if she knows this or not, but she helped me remember that you cannot sit back and let life happen.  You have to go out and make life happen.

For all of you Christians out there who are saying that you are supposed to let God lead your life, I agree with you.  I try to pray every day to have God let me know if I am on the right path or not.  I am once again making life happen, and like my younger self did, I rely on God to help show me which path I am to blaze.

Now here we are at the present, I have a good job, and my family’s only debt is our house.  While I still do not have an airplane, I do manage to scrape together enough money to fly a few hours each year.

The important part though is that I’m not sitting back waiting for life to happen to me.  I am once again working to make life happen.  If you are a non pilot that has always dreamed of becoming a pilot, stop sitting back letting life happen to you.  Start working to make your dreams come true.

If you are a pilot that has hung up his or her wings while raising a family, dust those wings off.  Don’t sit back and let life happen while you are rasing your family.  Instead find ways to make life happen.  You will not only be able to share your joy of flight with your family, but you will also be teaching your children a valuable lesson about life.

There may be obstacles in your way.  So what?  They will be there whether you are letting life happen or making life happen.  Life is sort of like canoeing down a river.  You can sit back in the canoe and let the current carry you down stream, or you can get out your paddle and choose which path through the stream you wish to take.

Either way there will be obstacles in your path.  There might be rocks, logs, or sand bars that are just below the surface waiting to stop your progress.  Or perhaps there is a small waterfall just around the bend.  What would put you in a better position to overcome these obstacles?  Sitting back in your canoe letting the current do all of the work, or paddling along choosing your own path?

I say paddle along, choose your own path, and make life happen.  Just as in the canoe you will hit an obstacle and realize that the stream has passed you by, one day you will wake up and realize that life too has passed you by if you just sit back and let life happen.