Saturday, September 8, 2012

Skydiving Samadhi: Episode 2

Finally, it came my group's turn to dive. Divers were loaded in the plane. We sat in a long line, legs outstretched, almost in each others' laps. I was in my Senior Masters' lap. The plane, to me, looked like the plane in Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom that carried Dr. Jones to India. I could almost hear the chickens squawking over the engines.

There was a wave of excitement that swept over everyone as the plane began to taxi to the runway. I calmed my nerves, looked out the window and prayed. "Great Spirit, I'm going to fly, today. Please take me in your hand and bring me safely back to Earth." This prayer would continue until my moment of truth.

Beneath me, the metal thrummed and the engines purred as we took off. Pressed back against each other in a line, we waited. Out of the small window to my right, I watched the ground shrink below me, still praying. As I could see less and less of the ground below me, I turned my attention inward. I closed my eyes and continued to pray. From time to time, one of the more seasoned divers would attempt to goose and scare me. It never worked. I just opened my eyes and looked at them. "Yes?" I'd ask them in a calm voice. "Nothing," was usually the response.

After what seemed a long time in flight, we heard the pilot say, "Okay. Now!" My Senior Master leaned down into my ear and said, "He better be right. He got the Helen Keller award, last year." Later, I would learn that 'The Helen Keller Award' was a spoof prize given to the pilot who told divers to jump either too early or too late, resulting in the divers coming down nowhere near their jump target.

With the word of the pilot, the door to the plane was opened. Pair by pair, I watched as people left the door. It was as simple as that. They were just in the door of the plane one second, and the next they had fallen forward and were gone. There was no big scenes of people peeing themselves. Everything went smoothly.

Suddenly, my Senior Master said, "Our turn!" I stood up and maneuvered to the front of the plane as best I could with a full-grown man strapped to my back. I reached out, put my hands on either side of the door and looked down. Below me, only one step away, were clouds. The vast openness of sky yawned out before me. I could see patches of green through the clouds and the wind whipped around my face. So simple, it seemed. Just one step. One leap of faith out into the sun-speckled air. My moment of truth.

I closed my eyes. . . I took a deep breath. . . and I fell.

Episode 3