The World Masters Games is a HUGE event. It brought in a projected 53 million dollars into the New Zealand economy. More than 28,000 athletes from over 100 countries participated. I was so impressed by how well it was organized especially for such an enormous undertaking. To promote the city of Auckland and the World Masters Games, the hired marketing company selected two athletes for a promotional video shoot. A woman from Australia and I were chosen, and we were gifted an activity of our choice. So, of course, I picked the scariest activity of all: Sky. Freaking. Diving. They were kind enough to pay for the skydiving for me and four of my teammates.
Let me remind you that I am deathly afraid of heights and also tight spaces. Skydiving is something I never wanted to do. But I was going to New Zealand for adventures and I knew my friends would make me do things that made me feel uncomfortable. And I wanted to embrace that and say yes to (almost) everything. So I didn’t sleep the night before due to my trepidation. We were all nervous about it but vowed to not speak of it until it was actually happening. Just thinking about it made us sick to our stomachs.
We took a ferry from our beach house on the north shore to downtown Auckland, where they picked us up to drive out to the skydiving location. As we rode up in the sky, all 17 of us straddling eachother in the tiny airplane, we started off nervously laughing and trying not to think about what was about to happen. But as we reached superior heights, the plane grew silent. We were jumping from 16,500 ft, the highest jump on the island. It would be 75 seconds of free fall and 5 minutes thereafter of parachuting. It was a LONG WAY DOWN.
I still can’t believe that I sat at the edge of the open door of an airplane. And then proceeded to jump out of it. It is so crazy to me. I can’t even wrap my mind around how insane that is. And I have no idea how to explain what it was like. It’s absolutely surreal. It felt unreal. We were dropping so fast that I had no control of my lips or anything really. My face looked smashed like I was being punched in a boxing match.
I would be lying to you if I said I wasn’t freaked out the entire time. I tried to enjoy the beauty below. After all, there aren’t many other places to skydive that are more beautiful than New Zealand. But I was also trying to not throw up from all the spinning that we were doing.
When we landed on the ground, the videographer was right there waiting to get my reaction, but all I wanted to do is run to the bathroom to throw up. I was sick from the spinning but also from the huge adrenaline rush of what had just happened.
When we got back to Auckland, we wanted to tell everyone around us what we had just done. And we did. I was telling random strangers that we just went skydiving and that I had five years to live and that they needed to overcome their fears and live their dreams. Haha. It’s like a crazy high where you feel like you can do anything (or say anything).
After we settled down from the high of our experience, we were all suddenly sooooo exhausted. It was like a sugar crash times a thousand. It’s hard to explain the feelings of it all. But let’s just say that we went straight home for a 20 min power nap before our game that night, and we were grateful for an easy opponent.
I went skydiving because I knew it would be the scariest thing imaginable. I wanted to do it because I don’t want to miss out on exhilarating experiences just because I’m afraid. I don’t want my fear of heights and tight spaces (the tiny, crowded airplane) to limit my experiences here on earth. I want to not shrink from opportunity but to embrace it, arms as wide open as they’ll go. When all is said and done, I want to comfortably declare, “I wasn’t afraid of dying, I was afraid of not living.”