“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” ― Rumi
Many years ago, I spent two wild months roaming the beautiful country of New Zealand, home to the outdoor life, extreme sports, good wine and I loved it! After travelling throughout Asia for eight months, I felt as if I’d returned home despite being half way around the world.
For those of you who have experienced New Zealand, you will know it’s a playground for adrenaline junkies. It’s not for the fainthearted. Bungee Jumps, Sky Diving, Zorbing and Zip Lining to name a few and an amazing ski resort on the Remarkable Mountain Range around Queenstown on the South Island. There’s no shortage of ways to get your heart pumping, scare yourself silly and create crazy memories.
Before arriving in New Zealand, I said in a tipsy moment that I would do a skydive despite feeling terrified. I managed to put it off to the very last minute, the day before I was due to fly out of Auckland to Hong Kong. On a fine and sunny Sunday morning, I arrived at the Auckland Skydive Centre with jelly legs, my heart in my mouth, butterflies in my stomach and a “No, don’t be silly I can’t do this” on my lips.
I prayed for rain, for clouds anything to put a stop to it. As I paid for my place, I told myself “you can pull out Sam, doesn’t matter what people think”. As I waited for my Skydive Master, my knees shaking, “I don’t have to do this, I just have to say no. I have nothing to prove”.
And then I heard my name. A soft Italian ”Samantha?”. I turned to see the most beautiful man, not just in his looks, but his light. He positively glowed. He was grace in a body and a touch of divinity at the moment I needed it the most. I don’t mean this in a lusty way, but I was gobsmacked and squeaked a “Yes, that’s me”, with my travel buddy laughing and a quiet “I guess you are jumping now eh Sam” in my ear.
He took me through my training and before I knew it, we were climbing into a tiny plane. It was just me and my friend jumping that ride, and a few of the staff, taking advantage of the empty plane to jump themselves.
For anyone that has jumped, you will know the plane ride up is nothing but extreme. No seats, just bums on the floor. Once up off the ground, the climb may as well be vertical until we hit 5000 feet. The door opened, one of the staff walked to the edge and jumped.
I can’t put into words how mind blowing it is to watch someone be on the edge one second and then literally disappear. I felt green, I must be crazy, I can’t do this yet my friend for the day, took my hands and said in his beautiful accent, “Samantha you will be ok, you will enjoy” with a smile. Gulp. I gave a small nod, with my eyes on stalks, as I watched the next one jump out the door.
I’d booked the 13,500 feet dive for 55 seconds of free-fall and as we climbed higher and higher with the door open, ice cold air battering us inside, we finally leveled out. I looked out the window and I swear I couldn’t see the ground.
And it was my turn to go towards the edge and jump.
When you jump with a Tandem Diver, they are literally attached to your back. You both slide on your bums towards the door, legs out, arms crossed with the Dive Master sat on the edge and you dangling, whilst trying to remember to put your legs under the plane.
As you are sliding towards the door, every cell in your body screams “No!!!!!!!!!!!!” It goes against all logic, all basic survival instinct to continue that slide until you reach the edge. As you sit on the edge, quite literally dangling from another human being, whose hands you are in completely, it’s like meeting every fear, doubt, anxiety and worry you have ever had.
But then something beautiful happened. As I sat dangling out of the plane, I surrendered. Not with a slump of my shoulders, but with a howl I didn’t know I was capable of. I howled and howled and them some more, in one great big roar of emotion with grace on my back laughing.
With a final “Samantha, are you ready?” in my ear, I finished my howl and nodded. With my eyes closed, I felt myself rock back, pull forward and we were out. And I flew.
Now, wouldn’t it be amazing if I said, I soared in a state of joy and peace, touching the fluffy clouds.
No. Afraid not.
Like most leaps of faith, it’s terrifying until you are firmly back on the ground. I managed to hold onto the contents of my stomach, as we somersaulted out of the plane, stretched out my arms and legs and then swore 67 times in 55 seconds (my friend counted) as we hit terminal velocity and plunged to mother earth.
If you want to experience an extreme way of being in the now, then free falling is where its at. You fall at a 120 miles per hour, as you drop one thousand feet every five seconds. Your brain cannot keep up and my only memory is watching the clouds hurtling up towards us and praying that they really weren’t solid.
The cord was pulled, the chute opened and I continued to swear and squeal all the way down. It was only back on the ground, once I’d stopped jumping up and down, seal clapping and squealing begging to go up again, that my Italian friend told me “Samantha, you have a potty mouth and one hell of a set of lungs on you”. I had no recollection of my potty words, but I can imagine.
With a hug, a shake of his head and a chuckle, my Italian friend bid me farewell. Twenty four hours later, on my flight to Hong Kong, I was still buzzing and a passion was born. Whilst I’ve not been able to recreate the intensity of the experience on the jumps that followed since, I still crave the feeling of surrender, sat on the edge of a plane.
In the years that have passed, like many of my life experiences, it taught me an important lesson. We are not here to live a safe life or be small in any way, shape or form. We are here to live life and yes live it on the edge. I’m not talking about skydiving, but any wall, block or barricade we have inside of us, that stops us from expanding and growing.
You will know if you have a wall inside of you if you feel anxious or fearful and it’s not there to stop you. It’s there for you to knock down if you are brave enough, to feel the fear and do it anyway.
And that is what living life on the edge is all about. If you are anxious, fearful, worried or doubtful, just find the wall inside of you and sit by the edge of it, surrender, let go and let yourself expand. Live life on the edge. It’s what you were born to do.
(c) Samantha Wilson 2016. All Rights Reserved.