The Only Way Out is to Jump
My first time skydiving was about on par with the stress level I have been experiencing with the planning and everything else associated with our round-the-world trip. It is bizarre to think that jumping out of a plane could be as frightening as stepping onto one bound for Iceland, but right now, I keep finding myself covered in a cold sweat, hoping that we will be okay.
It is not as though Tara and I have not done a good job researching and planning this trip. Most of our blog posts so far have detailed the deadlines and goals we have had, and met. However, there is still so much uncertainty that we simply cannot plan for. Uncertainty swirling around elements of the trip, our pre-departure, our return, how it will affect us individually, as a couple. These variables prevent us from making decisions, and as someone who likes to attack problems early and head-on, this fills me with worry.
This helpless feeling can be compared to the look you see on my face the split second before I “jumped” out of a plane (I skydived tandem, strapped to an instructor, so it was a cross between being thrown and falling out of a plane. I know, a far less glamorous characterization than the one often described). Before experiencing the thrill of the fall, the weightlessness of the air, extension of the parachute and all the other feelings your body grapples with during your oh-so-brief skydive, you are forced to face your own mortality. This is done by requiring everyone to sit through a video informing you that you could die, sign multiple releases explaining you could die, and ultimately strap on a parachute that warns you in big bright words that, yes, you could die doing this.
Facing the warning of death via pre-recorded video and lawyerly documents blurring together is one thing, but once you are strapped to someone in a small prop plane with a cargo door open for the majority of the ascent, your fear can really take hold of you. Before jumping, your instructor must receive a verbal affirmation acknowledging you’re ready to go, but that usually happens far away from the jump door. Once you are at that door, the only way through it is by letting go.
Jumping out of a perfectly good plane and traveling the world for an extended period of time may not seem like the most logical of bedfellows, but even now, I know my fear is just as irrational as it was before exiting the plane. Tara and I will have a life-altering trip. We are choosing an experience that few people dare to attempt, and we hope the reward will ultimately outweigh the risk.
But right now, I’m staring out of the cargo door; the wind is whipping past me and the ground is not even in sight. I turn and my wife is behind me and I feel safe but nervous. It’s too late to ride the plane down to the ground — and we step out into the nothingness.
Mike Shubbuck is one half of the the traveling duo known as Two Travelaholics. He and his better half, Tara, are about to embark on a round-the-world trip, starting on June 6, 2012. As an award-winning filmmaker, Mike is excited to document their journey through videos and photography. You can follow him and Tara on Twitter (@2travelaholics) or on their website, Two Travelaholics.