Hurtling through the sky from 11,000 feet. Hands outstretched. The ground rushing to greet me.
For my 18th birthday, my parents gave me the gift of skydiving. I know, right? What were they thinking? And recently, my mom found a box of pictures, among them the two rolls of Kodak premium — of me, falling from the sky.
The images made me melancholy. Skydiving is probably one of my most vivid memories; I remember the adrenaline rush so distinctly.
Riding up, up, up in the small airplane, on the floor behind the pilot, gripping the edge of his seat so tightly my knuckles were white. You can see me on the video — yes, there’s a video — eyes clamped shut, whispering the mantra, over and over.
“Please let the parachute open. Please let the parachute open.”
And then I was strapped to my tandem partner, and because I was in front, I had to make the first step out of the plane. That’s right. One giant leap for Emily. And suddenly – I was falling.
The pictures made me sad because I realized I’ve never again felt such a rush. Sure, getting a tattoo was somewhat similar, but not near the same intensity; the same with my nose piercing. The moment before I walked down the aisle is probably the closest I’ve come to that jumble of knots in my belly — but it never reached such a grand scale.
However, my friend Ali put things in perspective when I broached the subject with her Tuesday evening.
“What comes to my mind,” Ali said, “is that song ‘You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling.’ But instead, you’ve lost that daredevil feeling. But you haven’t lost it, and that’s the thing. You want to find it again – you want to see where you can find it.”
The reason I’m sad, she continued, is because I know I’ll never jump out of an airplane again. True.
“But you still can find those moments,” Ali said. “We all still have those moments. I know if I got news right now that I was pregnant, it would give me a shot of that feeling. Same thing if and when my sister ever called me and said she was getting married — it would be a little shot of that feeling.”
She’s so right. Life isn’t about the one “big” moment – it’s the cliché “little moments.” It was watching my daughter reading the letter at Christmas that told her we’re going to Disney World. It’s knowing my friend Gemi just had a great date; having my 2-year-old niece run up to me, shouting, “Hey Mimi!” It’s planning my next girls’ weekend or a visit to my brother in Colorado.
It’ll be the feeling I have when Ali announces she’s pregnant.
“So you’re right,” Ali said, “you can’t recreate that exhilarating ‘let go of life’ feeling of falling out of a plane every day, but there’s got to be little things that can help you find that. There has to be, or … why bother?”
Exactly. While it might not be an all-at-once rush, skydiving can’t compare to life as a whole. So while I may not ever step out of a plane again, I’ve made my peace. The little moments add up, and will continue to do so.
And suddenly – I am falling.
Emily Hayes is a staff writer for the Times-Journal.. Her column appears Thursdays, where this was first published. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.