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You know how things are generally not all they're cracked up to be once all's said and done? Well this one surpassed expectations.

After you watch a safety video, sit through their advertisements for more things you can buy, and get all dressed up in a funny blue jumpsuit and harness, they take you up in this tiny, neon pink plane for a short "scenic flight" before the jump. It's meant to calm you down. Actually pretty effective.

Then they open the door, you hear rushing air and see clouds three feet from your head, and it's "Oh right, I'm about to jump out of a plane." Of course going tandem, you don't jump so much as get pushed with a tall, confident, strapping young man harnessed to your back. One moment you're sitting on the edge of an airplane, and the next moment you're hurtling through the air and have no idea which way's up or how you're still inhaling oxygen.

The first few moments of free-fall were a bit alarming because the air pressure changed so much that it felt like I couldn't breath. And I couldn't say anything to my instructor, of course, because neither of us could hear anything over the rushing air. Did I miss some crucial step? I thought wildly. Were we supposed to put on oxygen masks first or something? No. Once I'd figured out that I was actually breathing just fine, just differently, I had about five seconds to contemplate the view of the sky and the feeling of near weightlessness before my instructor pulled open the parachute, and we were suddenly right-side-up and literally just hanging over a lake, suspended from... nothing. I've never used the word "breathtaking" so much in one day. At the risk of sounding rhapsodic, I really don't know what to compare it to. I imagine the parachute part is similar to paragliding or hang gliding, though I've never experienced either so I can't say.

The view is similar to what you see outside a plane window on a particularly clear day ten minutes before landing, except there's nothing between you and the earth but open sky. When do you get to see the world from that perspective? If, you know, you're not a professional hang glider. Seriously. Privileged much, Madeleine? Oh heck yeah.

We were right above Lake Taupo the whole time, and had a few minutes to chat with my instructor and had him tell me about each of the mountain ranges that surrounded us. He let me steer the parachute for a bit, too. Very simple to do actually (unless he was doing something else that I didn't know about, most likely), but physically demanding because of all the air pressure. Looking down at that expanse of gorgeous New Zealand landscape, though... I don't know, it was one of the most peaceful things I've ever experienced. Felt just like I do after a really long and powerful yoga practice. And these people get to do this every day. Every day. Agh. My instructor was amused at my reaction. "Found a new career path, have you?" he chuckled. Really though. Don't tempt me.

It was over far too soon. We glided down to the ground with a remarkably soft landing - I actually landed on my feet, which I was quite proud of as that is normally a challenge for me when just moving from Point A to Point B on the ground.

Verdict: Can't wait to go again someday. Who's with me? :-)


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 3rd, 2014 12:25 pm (UTC)
I never thought, until partway through this post, about the people who do this every day. That is remarkable. It probably never gets old for them. Yes, yes, new career path for you! Combine with teaching yoga and raw food cuisine and there you've got it!
May. 3rd, 2014 11:21 pm (UTC)
I know, me too. I feel like those people must acquire some kind of broader perspective on life, spending so much time taking that risk and seeing the earth from that perspective. (Not that, of course, it's actually such a risk - statistically getting in a car is waaaay more dangerous - but it feels like it is, and that must mean something).

Absolutely - yoga in the sky while making chocolate. Nbd. I'm sure there are people who do yoga while skydiving, though. People do it on surfboards - why not with a parachute?

Edited at 2014-05-03 11:22 pm (UTC)
May. 4th, 2014 12:46 am (UTC)
Okay... so I had to check, right? Oh my, after some very quick Googling: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IzrWKjreJfw

Best yet, this says "thanks to Skydive Philadelphia." What are the odds.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us -don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

--Emily Dickinson