Skydiving

"A blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others."
-- Martha Graham

I am broke. Saving for a new car and depositing double into a retirement fund (since I neglected it all these years) eliminated visiting the majority of places still on my bucket list. Since starting a new job in March 2016 I have accrued little vacation time so it seemed the only days off I'd truly have were based on the winter holidays (November + December 2016).  Yet, where others see a time to relax & enjoy company, I see opportunity.  How could I let 7 paid days off pass without going somewhere?!  As Jack London voiced in one of my absolute favorite quotes: "I shall use my time."

After the trials of this past year since returning to the U.S.A. in July 2015, I craved venturing off on my own again. Maybe it's because I'm single and used to providing for myself.  Maybe it's because I'm an only child who finds myself the best company.  Maybe it's because I'm an introvert who relishes the sounds of nature and my private thoughts.  Maybe, I wanted to go solo because I've done it before and experienced the value of drifting through the world.  Paradoxically, my favorite days and loneliest nights have occurred while I was abroad and alone. There's the allure of being open to meeting whoever and whatever, and therein lies the danger.  It's proving you can be emotionally tough and equally resourceful in navigating the culture and landscape of a foreign country.

Scraping by financially is not a new stress to me. I don't remember a time when I had extra money in the bank or didn't have to look at a pricetag before a purchase.  I attended university full-time, but stressed over juggling academia with a professional workload.  Why did I need to accrue so much cash?  So I could spend it all -- in one transaction -- at the dropzone.  You see, at age 17, I became obsessed with the sport of skydiving.  The immeasurable blue sky and the freedom to be fluid sold me.  The welcoming fellow jumpers only sweetened the experience.  However, it's not a cheap sport.  I was literally buying fuel for a plane, once a Hercules C-130, and paying for very specific, qualified instruction.  YouTube and personal accounts couldn't facilitate me becoming a licensed skydiver.  It's one of those things I could not learn remaining on solid earth; only experience could wholly teach me.

Wow, did experience teach me well!  My knees were covered in semi-permanent bruises for an entire year, I've had to land in a tight 900, square foot backyard to avoid power lines, had to cutaway my main parachute, known too much tragedy and survived one of the deadliest malfunctions.  While these events formed my current view about the fragility of life, not all of them were negative. I've also fluttered around towering clouds, fallen through rainbows, hung off the strut of an airplane, exited the plane into a pitch black sky and made life-long friends.
Similar to my 13 years in the sport of skydiving, I have not had a bad trip traveling, but my track record gives me anxiety.  I am undeniably grateful for both, but I feel like you don't receive a life as stellar as mine; like my good luck supply is nearly depleted.  While I was hurling myself out of airplanes those years, I wondered how many could I come out on top of the odds while screaming towards the ground at 160 MPH.  Especially because I know a lot of people who perished within the sport.  Now -- in terms of traveling -- should I heed the proverbial "cash out while your chips are high"?  If I keep gambling, I'll eventually lose it all. I've heard myriad horror stories and am not naive to how cruel nature and people can be.  Do all these great wanderings and times I've pushed the envelope (such as sleeping in my car in the outback) still outweigh one hypothetically scarring adventure?  Even worse, what if there is no bad situation as the outcome... what if I am murdered abroad? The conundrum is a nomad can never know the potential consequences and awesome of traveling until she is in the thick of it.
Through research, I fully knew this would be the most dangerous country to date that I have explored, but isn't the purpose of life to keep pushing one's boundaries?  After skydiving, rock climbing, and sleeping in cars around the world, I'd say the answer is hell yes!  I aim to prove the general public's misconceptions wrong, especially when Americans balk at the developing world without any real basis for their discrimination.

As with traveling to Puerto Rico, I was met with adversity that was all heresay (perfect example from a customer: "I know a manager who's workers won't cross the border into their motherland because it is so dangerous!"), and that only fueled my fire. The more I delved into the guidebook, the more confident I felt about pulling off this trip.  My trepidation changed into readiness; my fear evolved into an unmatched desire.

The timing coupled with inexpensive flights, cheap services, and the great exchange rate from American currency made it a tough offer to refuse.  So, I am excited to announce I'm off to central Mexico for two weeks: powerful volcanoes, ancient civilizations, and the continent's winter retreat for Monarch butterflies!

Comments

  1. Have fun, Wood! Miss you and I really want to play in the sky with you..... soon! ;)
    -Rob

    ReplyDelete
  2. When I visited in May it was really hard to sit on the ground (as you recall). Thanks for the well wishes and happy holidays to you/sarah/jake! I hope to see you soon too!

    ReplyDelete

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