I just had one of the best weekends of my life. I’ve wanted to go skydiving as long as I remember. And finally this year, I decided to find a place to go and get a parachuting license. This weekend was my fourth time. Going there was a bit of a gamble this time around since the weather forecast was predicting rain and possibly a storm. Both days we were receiving updates from the nearby airfields: “closed due to bad weather conditions”, “ceiling too low, jumping suspended”, “airfield under water”. At the same time, we were having bright and warm sunshine. In every direction, there used to be dense clouds on the horizon, but for whatever lucky reason, all clouds seemed to pass a few kilometers away from us. The only thing that kept us from jumping all the time was that we were not able to pack our parachutes fast enough, and we spent a lot of time on refueling the machine since there were not enough people to help out (because everybody expected the weather to be bad). Anyway, I managed to get four jumps this weekend, which was a new record for me.
I still have second thoughts whenever I enter the plane and we are about to take off. It’s not that I fear the jump, it’s just a strange feeling to enter tiny tin box that is older than my parents, and having to sit cramped in it for 15 minutes, feeling the winds blow inside through all the cracks it has, until you finally get to the desired height, open the door and exit into the liberating endlessness below you. ..
Liberating does not even begin to describe the feeling!
For a brief second you enter a state of weightlessness. For me, it is indeed very brief since I still had to have an automatic discharge of the parachute (it’s tied to the plane, so it opens instantly after I jump, next time I shall be allowed to have a manual opening). When it opens, the fun continues. Playing with the parachute is extremely pleasing. You’d think that after it opens you slowly glide towards the ground. I quickly learned that this is not the case at all. Pulling only one of the control lines sends you into a speedy spiral towards the ground. The centrifugal force is enough to have your body in a horizontal position while speeding towards the ground. The vertical speed experienced at that moment is enough to have every single bone your body turn into dust if you were to hit the ground while spiraling down. It’s simply exhilarating! The rush is so strong that I cannot imagine any other experience or any drug having an effect even close to this. Nothing in the world matters anymore when you’re hanging up there with the ground thousands of meters below you.
At some point you realize that the ground is not that far away anymore. You realize that both the vertical and horizontal speed you have are nowhere close to being negligible. You realize that if you do not nail the landing you might break something. The rush from being in the air is replaced by the rush of having to make sure that you do not hurt yourself while landing (this year alone, on our small airfield, we already had a dislocated should, a broken foot and a broken vertebra). You know that there is this tiny time frame in which you have to break so you can land just fine. Start breaking too late and you will crash against the ground. Break too early and you will find yourself hanging still above the ground for a moment before you fall towards the ground like a rock. There is only a brief moment to break and only a single try to do so. If you fail, you cannot correct anything. You simply have to live with the consequences and try to mitigate the damage.
I decelerated too early … Three out of four times… That’s when I realized why we had to learn how to fall down correctly. There I was, hanging 3 meters over the ground. I knew what will follow. But I also knew what I had to do. I dropped to the ground and it felt like I might as well have had nothing above. The moment my feet touched the grass I kneeled even further and rolled myself to the side. I wasn’t proud of my landing. My deceleration was extremely mistimed. But I was proud that I kept my composure and was able to react properly.
Overall, my jumps were not perfect but reasonably well done and the minor mistakes (3/4 of the landings) were not that big of a deal. After all, that’s why I’m a skydiving “student”. I have to learn from my mistakes and correct them in the future.
The weekend was great. Jumping was tons of fun. I finally learned to pack the parachute on my own. I enjoyed the company of the people there. I was able to relax spending two days in the nature far away from noisy polluted streets crowded with people. It was two days of calmness interrupted only by the bliss of the adrenaline rush.
When we got in the car and drove off the airfield, I was already longing for the serenity I was leaving behind. The afterglow of the pleasant experience was already fading and the troubles of my daily routine started creeping back in my mind…
Jumping is far beyond great. But my 4 jumps barely amount to 30 minutes of flying. What exactly did I love so much about spending 40 hours there? Among the nearly four hours of packing parachutes in the scalding heat, the sleep on the rigid floor, and the company of people who are nice, but who I barely know, what exactly was it that I cherished so much about that place?
Every trouble, every concern, and simply everything that bothers me is left behind. The moment I wake up early Saturday morning after three or four hours of sleep, I am not able to think about anything else but the upcoming weekend due to fatigue. There, it’s a constant hustle of packing, flying and jumping. Rinse and repeat. By the time, jumping is over Saturday in the late afternoon, I have sweat what feels like a gallon, and I’m simply too tired and too overwhelmed with the experience, so the only thoughts circling my mind are the thoughts of food and the upcoming sleep.
Physically, I feel like I’ve been put through a mincer. Emotionally, I feel at ease.
Sitting at home, I wonder, am I doing this mainly so I do not have to face reality? So I can escape my troubles? I begin to think about the people I met there. The person who gave me a ride is a really nice guy from what I can tell. But he is in his mid-forties. He has a dead-end job and drives a car that would be worth more if melted and recycled for scrap than if it were sold as a vehicle. He does not have a family and I’m fairly sure all of his income goes to living expenses and skydiving. Do I want to become like him?
There is this young guy, barely 20, who could not be more passionate about skydiving. He has clocked in more jumps in half a season than most people do in two years. He has a badly paid mechanic job and adds to his income doing black labor after hours for €6-8/hour. This pays even worse than my part-time no qualification job. He glows with excitement when he jumps. It is obvious that he loves it. He also often makes jokes, how he is single because his passion for skydiving cannot and will not be hindered by any relationship. But I see how he looks, how he talks to that daughter of one of the senior members of the club. I see his timid thrill when she casually flirts with him. And I see the uncomfortable look in his eyes when she casually mentions her latest sexual conquest. Does he really enjoy working 14 hours a day and following his passion? Or does he abuse his passion as an escape from the grey uneventful reality of his life?
How about the more senior members of the club? At my age and with my limited knowledge about them I cannot claim to be able to understand or know how they feel about their lives. But there is for example that one guy: Mid-fifties or early sixties, the father of the aforementioned girl. He is divorced and currently living with his new girlfriend, who from what I can tell is a whiny, bitchy, chain-smoking pile of lard that just had her second heart-attack. He showers her in his caresses and looks happy to have found somebody to treasure, but does he really enjoy living with the whale described above, while having a rather promiscuous daughter and a son who could easily star as a junkie in a Hollywood movie without the need of makeup or change of clothes or even acting lessons. Is he really happy about the circumstances of his situation or did he maybe succeed in blending out everything negative and just concentrates on the positives? Maybe, this is the key to happiness.
My mother always says: Do not compare yourself with others. Always look at your own situation.
Whatever the case might be with the people in my skydiving club, when I look at my own situation I keep feeling that I do try to escape from reality by being there...
I’m self-conscious above my physical appearance. It’s not that I think I’m ugly and would not dare to be among people but I do need to lose some weight. I already made a big leap from 110kg down to less than 100kg but there is quite a bit more to be lost. As a matter of fact, most people probably would normally not even say that I’m overweight, but at the end of the day, when the shielding cover of cloth is gone, it becomes obvious that the broad shoulders have created a distraction from the belly that is hanging down. My “goal” was to reach below 95kg, but considering my eating and drinking habits in the past month I should be happy that I have not bounced back above 100kg yet again.
Since I’m already on the topic of health, I should mention that I smoke. And for fucks sake I smoke a lot. I hate every single cigarette that I smoke and I hate myself afterwards. And what I hate the most is that I cannot simply quit. In case that you are an occasional smoker: Quit as long as you easily can, because afterwards it becomes a torture!
In addition to my smoking, I also do not exercise at all. I tried jogging for a while, but for the past 6 weeks I have suspended it. It was not a conscious decision, but it resulted from my extreme laziness. I just thought I’d skip a day… and now I have skipped 6 weeks…
I do enjoy my part-time job. The colleagues are nice, the work is pleasant and I get the perfect mix of a desk-job, physical exercise and doing nothing. It’s a great job for a student, but not a job that can sustain a normal life. My scholarly performance however, has been well below subpar. There must be something wrong with me, because I simply cannot muster the drive to study. I can force myself to spend a full week before an exam to try to catch up with everything, unfortunately in my field of study, there are exams where 100 hours of intense studying are simply not enough. Normally, I get a doctor’s certificate, so I can skip an exam. At €5 for such a certificate, it’s a cheap and easy way to procrastinate even further, but thinking about it I have already spent the equivalent of a nice vacation on them… The “highlight” of my “studies” arrived two weeks ago in the mail: “We determined that you irrevocably failed an exam three times in a row. You will be exmatriculated at the end of the semester.” It was an exam that I registered for, but skipped without a doctor’s certificate twice, but getting kicked from the university required failing three times. It was obvious that they had not registered my last doctor’s certificate. To be honest, they would have had a good reason not to accept it, however, I played dumb and claimed my “rights”, so they did realize their mistake. Anyway, I got an apologetic letter and I remain a student. Considering my progress, I will remain a student for quite a while, though...
Money is the root of all problems!
As evident from this blog, money is not my only problem, but my financial troubles are certainly something that does bother me quite a bit. After living expenses, I blow all (and maybe even more) of my money on cigarettes and skydiving. I do not require any expensive clothes or toys, but having a roof over my head and food on the table seem nice, and those things become less and less tangible after the aforementioned hobbies.
And ultimately, there is the need for a significant other. There is the need for a person I can share with, a person I can feel comfortable with no matter what, and obviously a girl that I can fuck. Due to the problems listed above I really feel like I cannot offer much… and this makes me sick. It makes me sick that I cannot enjoy life now, and it makes me sick that I cannot even begin to imagine building up a future with a woman. Still there is that one girl that for whatever reason seems to like me. I’m not even the slightest bit confident with girls, and I certainly do not have a high opinion of myself when it comes to evaluating how a girl might feel about me. However, this girl has made it so extremely clear that she wants something from me that I literally feel like I can call her this very moment, say let’s fuck and she would be here in a matter of minutes. But I do not. She is cute, not somebody you would instantly notice but certainly someone you would not skip on, and she is nice. But I do not call her. As a matter of fact I evade her. Why? Well, that’s a question I really do not have an answer for. I feel like I know that she is not the one I would like to spend my life with, but what does this even matter if it’s only for the cheap fuck?
Maybe, it’s some naïve grasp on what love is – what true love is. Maybe it’s about some stupid feelings of insecurity. Or maybe it’s because of her…
When I smoked that bong of 40x saliva my world was supposed to come apart and my mind was supposed to be smashed into tiny particles. Reality did become a colorful and scary mess floating into the nothingness that slowly swallows everything it touches, but after a few minutes the crumbs came back together and my mind was back where it was supposed to be.
That ridiculous amount of shrooms I swallowed was supposed to pick apart my mind. There was water flowing up the walls. There was a being trying to come out of the wall. Music did become tangible. But there always was that feeling of calmness and easiness.
What actually shattered my mind was a short message on facebook… It began with facebook (“Do you maybe want to meet for a coffee”) and it ended with facebook (“I’m in a new relationship”)… For two weeks I could not eat, because there was a constant feeling of sickness. I felt like throwing up every single moment awake. Alcohol was supposed to be an escape, but she did manage to sneak into my dreams. Sitting in the tin can several thousand feet above the ground has been the only escape I managed to find…
And she was supposed to be my “just in case” … She was just supposed to be the second choice. But I quickly learned that my “first choice” would have been so much worse. I quickly learned that anyone else would have been so much worse. The more the feelings grew the more I learned… Now I hope that I did not learn. I hope, I think, I was conditioned to feel this way. Because she is gone…
I keep pushing myself to think why we do not fit together. And I do find some many reasons! But still, when I sit in the bus to work I may start to think about her. When I open my books, her face might appear. And when I lay myself down to sleep, I cannot help but fear that I will see her yet again...