Bracing myself in the doorway, looking down at the patchwork of earth below, I am paralyzed with fear. I have no choice but to jump. This is no thrill ride for an adrenaline junkie; the plane is going down.
The plane is a part of my life I’ve worked hard to keep airborne—a bright future constructed of all things done my way. It soared for a while. But so did my blood pressure and heart rate. Trying desperately to stay above the clouds, I turned into an enraged, maniacal freak racing to and fro in this manmade machine called human effort. I screamed orders into the cockpit, but the only one there was me—the one who’d attempted in vain to fly solo. And now that plane is falling from the sky.
So I jump. A momentous I-am-out-of-control-here-and-I-am-going-to-die terror seizes me. I wait for the merciful jerk of rope and harness, a strong arm to catch me. But there is nothing.
I am in free-fall, plummeting forward at the speed of a race car.
The wind roars in my ears, telling me that all will end soon—my body will make a splat on hard rock. The air rushes in, drying my mouth, and I can’t cry out anymore. But I feel a tap-tap on my shoulder and am reminded to spread my arms wide and fly. It’s my guide. I can’t hear his voice, but I feel him bound tightly to me. So I remember to look, and to open up myself to the vastness of earth and sky.
The plane is forgotten. I am no longer an eagle trapped aboard an aircraft. I am soaring on wings of freedom, resting against the mighty force of wind that carries me over dark valleys and raging water. There is no more fear. I know that at the precise moment, at just the right height—when the ground looms in my face, the parachute will open. All will be quiet. I’ll hear him again. And we’ll float gently together to a safe landing, on solid rock.