The Leap of All Leaps: Skydiving in Queenstown

Skydive - waiting in the plane

Today, dreams won over nerves.

More often than not, people come here longing for that surge of adrenaline, one great jolt to feel alive. You have to understand that for me, it felt completely different.

Terrified would be the exact word to describe how I felt towards skydiving. I would turn pale from simply looking at videos of people hurling themselves out of planes and into the great void. You can imagine how I felt when I watched Felix Baumgartner jump off from the stratosphere; it was a mix of awe, admiration, and ‘oh-my-god-what-have-you-done-!!!’ hysteria. No matter how much people try to convince me that I’m more likely to meet death by car or cow (?), I was adamant about staying grounded. I’d bungy, I’d go rafting, I’d bungy again — but throw myself off a plane? No-si-ree sir, I’d pass. Even if you offer to pay for it, nope. Even if you throw in Channing Tatum as the diving instructor, no (– well, maybe in that case, yes! Death by Channing isn’t so bad.)

Like a moth to a flame, I would look at skydiving with fear but still would be drawn in nonetheless. Deep in my heart, I knew that one day, I would eat all of my words and find myself propped at the edge of that plane, ready to jump out and literally throw all chances to the air.

I promised myself I would do it, but ONLY when the time felt right. When I felt happy with what I’ve done with my life, when I felt like I’ve shown all the people I love exactly how much I love them, when I felt overwhelmed by how lucky I’ve been to have seen the things I’ve seen, so much that it doesn’t even matter if I make it safely back to the ground —- then I would skydive.

That day was today.

One of the craziest jumps you will ever do in your lifetime.
One of the craziest jumps you will ever do in your lifetime.

As I sat inside the small plane, knee to shoulder to elbow with everyone else anxious for the big dive awaiting us, a million things whirred inside my head. If I had to write them all down, WordPress would probably have to sue me. For the most part, I was thinking of how blessed I felt, of how grateful I was for reaching this point where I have so many unbelievable memories with extraordinary people, enough to suffice a colorful lifetime. In my head, I was saying goodbye, and instead of being morbid, I don’t think I’ve ever smiled to myself that much. So this was how it felt, to be at peace.

I looked at the jolly faces of my assigned jump-master and photographer; it was just another day at work for them. Our plane climbed to 15,000 feet, and finally, it was our turn. For all my drama, our jump-masters had no hesitation, whatsoever — there was a mere split-second from when we all sat at the plane’s door and when we were airborne. Airborne! I guess that can only happen once — that churn in your stomach, that shock in your head when you realize you’re falling into oblivion, and for the first time, you have absolutely no control of anything in your life. You’re at the mercy of the man bearing the parachute, and the elements; there’s little else to do but enjoy that priceless bird’s eye-view of how gorgeous and alive our Earth can be. There was no fear, only amazement and an overwhelming gratitude that I was where I was. Somewhere in the middle of the sky. Thinking about it now, it still feels surreal, I tell you.

Land! Oh, sweet land!
Land! Oh, sweet land!

And then we landed safely; I got to live another day. Now that I fortunately walked off unscathed and still breathing, I reckon it was solely because I am still meant to create even more breathtaking memories of the wonderful world I’m in, with the phenomenal people I’m now with, and also those who are yet to cross my path. How can I possibly top off an experience like that? I can’t wait to get started.

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